Sussex Students’ Union hailed the NSS Boycott a success.
In an email to students on 17 March, the SU proclaimed: “Real progress has been made since students voted last term for the Students’ Union to support the boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS).”.
The SU states that: “students have already been responsible for a sizeable fall in the NSS completion rate at Sussex.”.
In light of this, the email encouraged students to continue the boycott, like 25 other Students’ Unions across the country.
When asked about current completion rates, Savannah Sevenzo, SU Undergraduate Education Officer, said: “The most recent stats we have on the NSS fill out rate is 33% completion on the 28th of February.
“This indicates a large drop in fill out rates from last year (2016) where it was 48% on the same date.”
The completion rate was previously visible on Sussex’s app for students however, it seems to have been removed.
The survey closes in April, in the meantime, the SU will continue to run the boycott and give information about the NSS and TEF.
According to the SU, the drop in completion has occurred despite Ipsos Mori (who conduct the NSS) calling and emailing students to encourage them to complete the survey.
A university spokesperson said this about completion rates: “With just under a month and a half left for students’ to fill in the National Student Survey it [is] still unclear as to how the response rates will compare with last year when a record 80% of all those eligible took part.”.
The University has also offered incentives to students who complete the survey.
When asked about incentives the spokesperson said: “The University has for many years offered students’ incentives to fill out the survey as an appreciation for the time it takes to complete.
“This year we once again offered students £5 worth of print credit and a £5 food voucher to spend in Sussex Food establishments; in addition to a prize draw for all eligible finalist students to win a graduation package.
“At a school level the incentive has always been an award [of] £1000 for a 70% completion rate and £2000 for a[n] 80% completion rate for each school’s student experience group to decide how to spend.
“The only change we made this year was to reduce these targets by 10% to enable the USSU NSS 10% reduction targeted via the boycott.”
However, Ms. Sevenzo suggested that: “The current incentives provided by the university for NSS completion suggest some weakness in the value of the NSS as a measure of student experience.
“The university do not trust that students are motivated to fill out the NSS without being offered ulterior incentives which suggests that students do not really believe in the NSS as a means of providing useful feedback to shape the university.”
The SU email also mentions the House of Lords amendment to sever links between TEF and fee rises, stating that the NSS boycott campaign was mentioned as a key cause of this.
When asked about the House of Lords vote, the university spokesperson said: “It is too early to comment as the parliamentary process is not yet complete but we would support the exclusion of the NSS from TEF as we feel it is not a robust measure of teaching quality”.