Education Officer's Blog

Latest news and updates from RUSU Education Officer, Niall Hamilton

How much is the NSS free coffee worth?

My anti-metric rhetoric brings all the boys to the yard…

The University is currently planning their annual campaign to get final year students, come January, to participate in the NSS. The NSS for those who don’t know is the National Student Survey. It calls for students to sum up their university experience by scoring 23 statements from 1-5, but you probably know it as 5 min questionnaire you have to do for a free coffee in the Union.

Don't get me wrong, the NSS isn't a completely awful thing. It gives Students’ Unions, Course Reps, Academics and Vice-Chancellors a vague overview of what students do and don't like about their university experience. However, it nearly always lacks contextual information about why students are unsatisfied, attempts to sum up over 3 years of experience into 5 minutes, is marketed by the university with ‘tell us how good we are’ narratives and is systematically racist and sexist. But this year that changes. This year the National Student Survey is now a key metric in the Teaching Excellence Framework, a government initiative used to measure ‘teaching quality’ and, far more worryingly, drive up tuition fees.

This year the NSS scores matter more than just a free coffee. This year the NSS will be a direct contributor to the increased debt of future students. The government thinks that the first 12 questions of the NSS are adequate enough as a measure of the quality of teaching, despite most having very little to do with actual teaching. They believe that a survey filled in by final year students, with very little thought going into it is enough of a contribution by students to assess how good their education was.

So that's why I've put forward a motion to Student Voice, calling for Reading University Students’ Union to support a boycott of the NSS. This means final year students actively signing up and pledging to not complete the NSS unless the University of Reading withdraws from the TEF, pledges to not increase tuition fees beyond inflation and works with other institutions to create a teaching excellence framework that will actually benefit students.

Voting is now open and you can vote at

Vote yes for boycotting the NSS

What’s a free coffee compared to the future debt of thousands of students?


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