Image Credit: Arian Kriesch
The results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS) were released earlier this week, and revealed that the University of York boasts the highest “overall satisfaction” ranking of the UK Russell Group Universities.
The score for “overall satisfaction” increased by 4% from last year’s, now scoring 88.6%. This increase for York specifically matched the general increase of the average “overall satisfaction” from universities and colleges across the UK, which raised from 83% to 84%.
Additionally, the University’s rankings in other areas such as “Teaching on my course” (rising from 85.3% to 87.5%) and “Student Voice” (rising from 73.78% to 75.91%) increased from last year’s rankings. Alongside this, the University met or exceeded the benchmark figure (the estimated figure for each statement) in all but one category, showing the high levels of academic achievement the University of York provides.
However, despite the rise of most rankings for the University, the agreement to the statement: “The students’ union (association or guild) effectively represents students’ academic interests” decreased from an already low 43.78% to 41.87%. The idea that YUSU is not representing students’ interests has been discussed throughout this past academic year, with campaigns such as the YUSU Brexit referendum gaining criticism from students.
Despite this, while 41% may seem low, when comparing to other Russell Group Universities, such as Durham which scored 32% on this statement and the University of Edinburgh which scored 38.59%, it seems York is still coming out on top in comparison to the other Russell Group Universities. This would suggest that student unions across the country struggle with meeting this need, not just YUSU.
The Survey has been criticised since its inception. In 2017, YUSU held a referendum to determine whether they should campaign for students to boycott The NSS. The votes concluded that YUSU should not do this, with 379 students voting “Yes” and 568 students voting “No”. Other Russell Group universities such as Oxford and Cambridge both continued to boycott the Survey this year, showing both that the criticism to the survey is high and that the data it provides is incomplete, as it does not record all higher education institutions in the UK.
The criticism and boycotting of the NSS stems from its supposed unfairness, and as a way to challenge the Government’s reforms to the higher education sector, however The University of York will still take part in it for the foreseeable future.