Our Policy & Review Group, headed up by the elected Policy Coordinator, has decided to move forward with a referendum on whether YUSU should support the NUS’s planned boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS). This has been brought forward following the submission of a policy motion which the Officer Group, in conjunction with the PRG felt warranted a cross-campus referendum. James Humpish, the Policy Coordinator explains:
"The question of whether YUSU should support a boycott of the NSS was originally supposed to be included in the current policy review. Once the policy pack was released, the officer group considered the time-sensitivity of the issue and voted that it went to referendum as is their prerogative. In any case, it will be the student body as a whole that determine the result and I look forward to an engaging debate, campaigning and voting."
The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey of all final year undergraduate degree students at institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NSS responses are shared with academic departments at the University of York and is one of many metrics used to develop an annual action plan to improve student experience. The data is also used in the national league tables that rank higher education institutions in the UK.
Last year the NUS passed a motion to boycott the NSS to challenge the government’s proposed reforms to the higher education sector. These reforms include the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which aims to help students choose where to study, by providing clear information about teaching provision and student outcomes
In this new system, once institutions pass the baseline quality standard they will be allowed to increase tuition fees, in line with inflation. This will create a system of ‘differential’ fees, where fees will vary depending on the institution’s TEF rating.
The NUS is boycotting the NSS to challenge the government's higher education reforms, in particular the TEF and the link between TEF and an inflationary rise in undergraduate home tuition fees. In this referendum YUSU is asking the students they represent whether they should boycott the NSS.
A YUSU referendum is a vote that is open to every student. Students will be asked to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question
The outcome will be decided by a simple majority. If more students vote ‘yes,’ YUSU will campaign for students to support the boycott and encourage students not to engage with this year’s NSS.
To reach quoracy 5% of YUSU members must vote.
Tuesday 24 January - Referendum announced by YUSU
Tuesday 24 January - AM, PRG meets to finalise rules. PM, rules circulated to campaign leaders and briefing takes place.
Wednesday 25 January (week 3) - Campaigning gets underway
Monday 30 January (week 4) - Referendum debate, 6.30pm, SLB/118
Monday 30 January (week 4) - Voting opens at 8.30pm
Monday 6th February (week 5) - Voting closes at 10am
Many students have strong feelings about whether or not YUSU should boycott the NSS. Here are some of the main arguments from the campaigners.
|The YES Campaign||The NO Campaign|
The Students’ Union will remain neutral in the referendum. Our priority is to ensure a fair and robust debate, rooted in factual information, in which every University of York student that wishes to participate is able to do so. Student members, including Elected Officers are free to participate but they do not represent an official YUSU view on the question of a boycott. YUSU will proceed with planning to promote the NSS as normal, until such a time as a policy is passed requiring a change of approach.
Any student at the University of York can get involved with campaigning to persuade students to vote for or against YUSU’s NSS boycott. Contact your campaign leaders for more information:
If you have any complaints please complete the form below and send it to the Deputy Returning Officer Tom Meares at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the rules of the referendum can be found in the document below.