The National Union of Students (NUS) is currently holding a National Ballot on the question:
Should NUS conduct and publish a risk assessment and equality impact assessment before finalising the NSS boycott/sabotage action?
At the NUS National Conference in April 2016, it was resolved that NUS should “mobilise students to sabotage or boycott the Spring 2017 National Student Survey” when Motion 201 “Divorce our courses from market forces” was passed by delegates.
This motion was passed in order to disrupt the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework, a framework which will allow institutions to be awarded ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’ or ‘Bronze’ for their teaching and give them the option to raise their fees in line with inflation. The metrics used for this framework will include data gathered from the National Student Survey, hence the proposed boycott/sabotage.
However some students’ unions felt the tactic of boycotting/sabotaging the 2017 National Student Survey could cause real harm to students and students’ unions in terms of:
- impact on Unions both in terms of reputation and funding, especially for smaller institutions
- damage to the relationship with key University management
- loss of valuable data to support the need for change
Led by the University of West London Students’ Union, and supported by a number of others, a motion was therefore submitted in September 2016 to the National Executive Council of NUS. The motion asked them to properly assess the risks to Students’ Unions as well as publishing an equality impact assessment on the proposed action before going ahead.
The clerks of the National Executive Council abused their power and deleted the clause calling for a postponement of the tactic pending assessing the risk to unions.
As a result of this concern being side-lined, the University of West London Students’ Union subsequently decided to lead a call for a National Ballot to make a decision on the issue. They were entitled to do this as when the National Executive Council stops listening to students’ unions, there is a constitutional provision to call a National Ballot on an issue.
On Friday 14 October, the Chief Returning Officer at the National Union of Students announced that a request for a National Ballot had been received and accepted.
All students’ unions are now able to vote in this National Ballot. Each union’s vote will be worth the full time equivalent (FTE) student numbers in their institution in accordance with Rule 1114 of the NUS Articles.