By Jon-Connor Lyons | Arts & Media Officer at the Salford Students’ Union
Students at Salford University and across our country are facing another increase in tuition fees in September, paying an extra £250 per year.
This has been the direct result of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), a government scheme that ranks our universities into Gold, Silver, or Bronze.
Some have argued that rating in this way is helpful to students as they can clearly see which universities are better than others and that universities will be able to see where they can improve.
However, I argue and so do many Salford students, that it has been a negative move and the survey results will create an elitism across our country.
These new set of results do give students a constructive say in how their university is rated, however, they have been rated in separate league tables for years, being able to see where universities rank overall on individual issues and courses.
There is a vital difference between those league tables and what is being done with the National Student Survey. The NSS is linked to how much universities can charge, whereas other league tables are solely for student benefit.
During my campaign to be elected the Arts and Media Officer and Vice-President of the Salford Students’ Union (USSU), I was very clear that they should have joined the National Union of Students in boycotting the NSS.
However, the decision that was influenced by the outgoing Officers and others in USSU was to play into the hands of the surveys, and somehow have influence over how our university was rated.
What can only be described as a backlash, we now see a rise in tuition fees at our University. Fees our union will not be paying, but our students and its members will be paying.
In USSU elections this year, several candidates openly opposed TEF and the NSS, clearly demonstrating that the SU must start listening to the students it claims to represent.
What I plan to do going forward is working with my colleagues in creating a new, bolder Students’ Union, led by students in a genuine grassroots style, opposed to any further rise in tuition fees. This is the common sense route our Students’ Union should have taken from day one.