Originally published at http://www.cusu.cam.ac.uk and quoted by news outlets ranging from the BBC to Varsity and even Wikipedia. CUSU's NSS was successful, resulting in a University response rate well below the national average and the threshold for inclusion in the national results (despite the threshold being lowered, at the last minute, from 60% to 50%). This helped highlight the weaknesses in the NSS and put CUSU in a strong position to campaign for proper feedback within the University.
The National Student Survey is a government-sponsored survey of all university finalists in the country. It is being organised by IPSOS-MORI on behalf of HEFCE. Despite the good intentions of the survey, its implementation has been a disaster. It produces meaningless data which is gathered in an intrusive way. Therefore, CUSU is encouraging all its members to opt-out whenever they are contacted by IPSOS-MORI and to not take part in the Survey.
IPSOS-MORI, the company paid by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to carry out the survey has consistently refused to listen to concerns raised by students whilst continuing to publicise the NSS in an aggressive way. Students who have already opted–out have still been sent lea.ets encouraging them to participate and college JCRs have been sent T–shirts to wear in support. Only one publicity concession has been graciously made: IPSOS-MORI will now cease to phone students after speaking to them eight times without getting a response, whilst in the past they would call them up to twelve times.
CUSU has been strongly lobbied to take part in the survey by the University. However, the reasons for this lobbying are not clear and CUSU has not been presented with any one explicit way in which the University will suffer from the lack of participation. Indeed, despite its non-participation in 2006, Cambridge was rated as being in the top-ten for “Best Student Experience” by the Times Higher Education Supplement.
CUSU also hopes to move forward constructively: it will also lobby the University to institute a Cambridge–specific survey, carried out in a way to ensure statistical reliability. This would be of great benefit to students, the colleges and the University and help issues such as welfare, educational–reform and access.