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Campaigning on NSS referendum commences

Image credit: the University of Greenwich, via YouTube
Image credit: the University of Greenwich, via YouTube
Image credit: the University of Greenwich, via YouTube

Campaigning on whether the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) should advise students to boycott the National Student Survey, in accordance with a National Union of Students’ (NUS) initiative, began at the University of York today.

The decision to hold a referendum on whether YUSU should comply with the NUS plan was made public yesterday in a blog on the YUSU website.

The referendum coincides with a number of students’ unions’ referenda on whether they should support the NUS campaign against the National Student Survey.

Sophie Flinders will lead the pro-boycott side, calling for students to ignore the National Student Survey, and the anti-boycott side will be led by Will Gibb.

The students’ union will remain impartial on the matter and will continue to promote the National Student Survey unless the result of the referendum compels a change. Any opinions expressed by elected Officers are their private opinions.

The students’ union has published a programme of events:

  • campaigning begins – Wednesday 25th January (Week 3)
  • referendum debate – Room 118, Spring Lane Building, Monday 30th January (Week 4)
  • voting opens – Monday 30th January 8:30pm (Week 4)
  • voting ends – Monday 6th February 10:00am (Week 5)

The pro-boycott campaign, ‘Vote Yes to the NSS Boycott’, has established a Facebook page. ‘Vote Yes to the NSS Boycott’ is yet to make its case on Facebook, but the students’ union has articulated arguments on its behalf. The pro-boycott side argues that boycotting the NSS will help the NUS’s campaign against the Teaching Excellence Framework which, if introduced, will “lead to the further marketisation of higher education and increased competition rather than cooperation between institutions.”

The pro-boycott side also contends that the NSS is flawed and open to bias; furthermore, that it is a poor indicator of teaching quality, something that the NSS was not intended to indicate anyway.

The anti-boycott side, ‘Vote No to the Boycott’, opted for a Facebook event. The anti-boycott side contends that boycotting the National Student Survey will devalue students’ degrees by denying departments the feedback they could use for making improvements and that a boycott will not work without full participation of all students across the country.

The anti-boycott side also argues that improvements to student life granted by the NSS will be lost and that the relationship between the University of York and its Students’ Union will suffer as a result of a boycott.