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UCU and the National Union of Students statement on the National Student Survey boycott

14 December 2016 | last updated: 16 December 2016

UCU and the National Union of Students (NUS) have issued a statement and advice to members ahead of a planned boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) by students in January.

Both organisations are concerned that government plans to link rises in tuition fees to how universities perform in the controversial Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) will lead to a worse deal for students. They believe that the introduction of the Tef in its current form will accelerate the marketisation of higher education, entrench inequality and damage the UK's academic reputation.

The statement encourages local UCU branches and students' unions to work together in support of the NSS boycott, and to defend the right of staff to express a position of support for the NUS action, so long as they fulfil their contractual duties in respect of the NSS

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU and NUS have a proud history of working together to defend education. We believe the government's plans for the Tef will damage our education system and we support NUS's plans to boycott the NSS. We are encouraging our members to work with students locally to support the boycott.'

NUS president, Malia Bouattia, said: 'NUS and UCU are united in our cause to defend education and stand up for students and staff in the education sector. Tef will have a hugely damaging impact on the future of education - entrenching the market and imposing even higher fees and debt on students. It is absolutely vital that students and lecturers work together to cut the link between Tef and tuition fees and we are extremely grateful to UCU and its membership for supporting this campaign.'

NUS vice-president (higher education), Sorana Vieru, said: 'The government has so far ignored the overwhelming opposition to the Tef from both students and staff. Boycotting the NSS is a powerful way for students to fight back against these dangerous proposals. Tuition fees were trebled only four years ago, so for fees to be raised further every year from now on in relation to how universities score in the Tef is appalling and will have a terrible impact on students and academic communities.'

 

Full UCU and NUS joint statement on a boycott of the National Student Survey

NUS and UCU are sister organisations committed to promoting the interests of students and staff and to defending education. Both unions believe that linking the Tef to an increase in fees will only lead to a worse deal for students. The introduction of the Tef in its proposed form will accelerate the marketisation of our sector, entrench inequality and damage the UK's academic reputation.

Just as NUS has given UCU strong support in its struggle for fair pay and better job security for staff, UCU will support NUS in its fight against the increase in tuition fees and its link to Tef. 

As general secretary and president respectively of UCU and NUS we agree the following:

  1. that local students' unions and UCU branches be asked to agree a common position in support of the NUS boycott of the NSS
  2. that UCU shares materials with members in support of the NUS boycott and that both unions defend the right of staff to express a position of support for the NUS action so long as they fulfil their contractual duties in respect of the NSS
  3. that both unions issue detailed advice to their branches on implementation of this joint position.

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