CUSU accused of circulating "inaccurate" information about NSS boycott

Image credit: Khushali Dodhia

A member of University staff has accused CUSU of “misinformation” regarding its support of a National Student Survey (NSS) boycott.

In an email sent to Faculty Board Secretaries and Departmental Administrators, Marianna Kaimaki, an Administrative Officer at the University working in Educational and Student Policy, said that it had circulated “inaccurate” information to students about the impact that boycotting the NSS could have on Year Two of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF2).

“The main argument CUSU used for boycotting the NSS is that if students fill the survey in, University fees are going to rise as they are part of the TEF. This is inaccurate, as failing to reach a 50% threshold in the NSS this year, will have no effect on our TEF 2 result, which will be determined, in part, on NSS performance aggregated over the last three years (i.e. 2014-2016).

“So, this year’s NSS will not be used in TEF 2.”

Cambridge signed up to the scheme, which will allow certain institutions to increase their fees in line with inflation, in December.

CUSU voted to boycott the NSS by a margin of 35 to 3, asking finalists not to fill out the NSS because “it is directly linked to the Teaching Excellence Framework” in a statement on its website.

It claimed that because the NSS requires a 50% response rate, CUSU is “confident that invalid NSS results will frustrate the implementation of TEF in the future and demonstrate clearly how easily the metrics can be manipulated.”

Kaimaki added: “If the boycott is successful […] we will not receive any of the students’ responses for 2017 and will have no source of information regarding students’ teaching and learning experience in Cambridge. This will deter our ability to intervene where problems emerge and will also not allow us to gather any good practice across the University.

“The University’s position is to carry on with our normal process of encouraging students to complete the NSS, whilst respecting the right of students to refuse to do so.”

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