For the second year in a row, the University of Oxford has not had enough responses on the National Student Survey (NSS) to publish its results. This is a success for Oxford Students’ Union, which this year continued its NSS boycott campaign, as well as an important victory for students and academics opposing the marketisation of UK Higher Education.
The NSS is a survey mainly of final-year undergraduates, commissioned by the Office for Students. The NSS boycott campaign involves encouraging students not to fill in this survey, and was begun in 2017 following plans of the UK Government to link NSS results to a new metric of university performance, the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). The TEF is a metric which combines NSS scores, graduate salaries and dropout rates, as well as a report written by the University, to award a Gold, Silver or Bronze rating. Initially, it was planned that the TEF ratings would decide the level of tuition fees a university could charge, with plans that the TEF would be broken down on a course-by-course level, to the point where different courses at the same university could charge different fees. Rather than measuring “teaching excellence”, the TEF was a metric developed to create a market in UK higher-education, and would have produced more and deeper inequality.
Following the successful NSS boycott in a number of major universities last year, including Oxford, the Government tried to silence students by halving the weight of the NSS in the TEF. Continued mobilisation on the boycott campaign, serious criticism of the NSS by institutions such as the Royal Statistical Society, as well as considerable criticism of the TEF by academics, has now led the Government to suspend the link of the TEF to tuition fees, and freeze the level of tuition fees. This is a major victory for the boycott campaign and the campaign against marketisation – and for education – in UK universities.
Oxford SU renewed its stance of NSS boycott in January this year, and its success for a second year running shows the anger and engagement of students at Oxford in opposing marketisation.
Alongside opposing marketisation, Oxford SU remains committed to supporting Oxford students in transmitting feedback to the University, and we encourage all students to fill in the Oxford Student Barometer survey.