As many of you will be aware our ally the National Union of Students (NUS) has called a boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS). The boycott covers all institutions where NSS is distributed and includes higher education (HE) courses that take place within
further education (FE) institutions. The NUS boycott will begin in some institutions from 6 January 2017.
The NUS boycott is in furtherance of their policy that the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which itself uses NSS data, should be decoupled by the government from any increases in tuition fees.
Like UCU, NUS has a long standing policy of raising concerns about the NSS both in terms of its positioning of students as passive customers and in its use for internal performance management.
UCU is working closely with NUS, reflecting our longstanding relationship. In line with our own policies we will give full support, within the law, to NUS's campaign. I have agreed a joint statement with Malia Bouattia the president of NUS which is set out below this message.
The practicality of how and when the boycott is to be implemented may differ between student unions. UCU and NUS have therefore agreed that our branches and local unions should seek to reach a joint position on the campaign locally in order to maximise support.
We are working closely with NUS on materials both for students and staff in support of our joint work and these will be available for download in this Friday's campaigns update email.
NUS/UCU Statement on the NSS boycott
NUS and UCU are sister organisations committed to promoting the interests of students and staff and to defending education. Both unions believe that linking the TEF to an increase in fees will only lead to a worse deal for students. The introduction of the TEF in its proposed form will accelerate the marketisation of our sector, entrench inequality and damage the UK's academic reputation.
Just as NUS has given UCU strong support in its struggle for fair pay and better job security for staff, UCU will support NUS in its fight against the increase in tuition fees and its link to TEF.
As general secretary and president respectively of UCU and NUS we agree the following:
- That local student unions and UCU branches be asked to agree a common position in support of the NUS boycott of NSS.
- That UCU shares materials with members in support of the NUS boycott and that both unions defend the right of staff to express a position of support for the NUS action so long as they fulfil their contractual duties in respect of NSS.
- That both unions issue detailed advice to their branches on implementation of this joint position.