Oxford SU stays neutral on NSS boycott

Last year a University-wide protest last year led to Oxford being one of only four Universities to be left out of the survey results.

In 2017, a similar boycott led to only 31% of finalists completing the survey

Oxford Student Union have taken no position on the National Student Survey (NSS), despite renewed calls to boycott the controversial scheme.

Student activists allege that the survey is used as part of the Teaching Excellence Framework, which could have an impact on tuition fees.

50% of finalists need to complete the survey, which is run by Ipsos MORI, in order for the results to have any weighting.

A similar University-wide protest last year led to Oxford being one of only four Universities to be left out of the survey results.

The survey was delivered to finalists last week, but so far calls for a boycott have only come from individual activists, rather than student societies.

When asked for their position on the survey, which was delivered to finalists last week, Oxford SU declined to clarify.

Activist and former OULC co-chair Tom Zagoria wrote: “Last year Oxford successfully boycotted the NSS, but we can’t drop the ball now. So this one’s easy, just get on with revision/procrastination, and boycott the NSS!”

He told Cherwell: “the protest is behind last year’s in terms of organisation.”

He has sent a motion to the Oxford Student Union for their meeting in 1st week encouraging them to support the boycott.

Another student activist, Neha Shah, posted on Facebook: “The survey is a widely discredited set of metrics that form part of the Teaching Excellence Framework, a tool the government wants to use to justify tuition fee rises for future generations of students.”

Exeter College JCR president, Ellie Milne-Brown, sent an email to Exeter students in support of the boycott. She wrote: “It is the opinion of the Executive Committee of the JCR that they should refuse to do so, and participate in the boycott that worked so well last year.”

Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) have already supported the boycott.

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A post on their website said: “Boycotting the NSS remains one of our best opportunities to make a clear statement against the direction of higher education which is becoming increasingly inaccessible and elitist.”

OULC have also supported the boycott. A post on their Facebook page said: “Let us come together again to send a clear message to this government that we refuse to be part of a system that puts greed before the needs of students.”

Oxford SU replied to a request for comment after the printed version of this article was published.

A spokesperson said: “There are motions for and against a boycott of the NSS which are going to Student Council on Thursday.

Following the decision by student council, Oxford SU will run a campaign on NSS.”

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said: “In common with other UK universities, we write to our students every year to make them aware of the National Student Survey (NSS).

“We have been working with colleagues from across the collegiate University, and with Oxford SU, to secure a strong response to the NSS, as we genuinely value the feedback we receive from students.

“This exercise is entirely unrelated to the Teaching Excellence Framework.

“The NSS allows students to tell us what they liked and didn’t like about their time at Oxford, giving us valuable feedback as we seek to improve the student experience.

“Additionally, if more than 50% of our students respond, the results are published on the Unistats website, which is linked to the UCAS website and allows students thinking of applying to Oxford to see what previous students thought of their time here.”

In 2017, a similar boycott led to only 31 per cent of finalists filling out the survey.

One of the organisers of the campaign, Anastazja Oppenheim said at the NUS conference: “if students, en masse, either refuse to fill in the surveys at all or sabotage it… the results would become of little use and would wreck plans for the TEF.”

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She later told Cherwell: “The fight needs to continue and, building on the experiences of this past year, we can make the boycott in 2018 even more effective.

“Our campaign has already won some concessions, such as delaying the link between the TEF and fees. But we must organise, resist, and wreck the survey until the TEF is scrapped and the Higher Education reforms withdrawn.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Just for people who aren’t aware, Oxford SU council has now decided to boycott NSS again and the article is now out of date. Minutes are still to go up, but I can report this having gone to council on Wednesday.

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