On the 14th December Kathy Wilde, Deputy Returning Office for the National Union of Students, released the findings of a ballot which sought to find out the views of Unions on the National Student Survey boycott.
The ballot asked:
‘Should NUS conduct and publish a risk assessment and equality impact assessment before finalising the NSS boycott/ sabotage action?’
The ballot was passed in favour causing Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President (Higher Education) to release the following statement:
“Firstly, thank you to unions for engaging in this democratic process, and to those unions who rigorously debated and voted on the motion mandating us to take NSS action, in our campaign against the [Teaching Excellence Framework], back in April at National Conference.
“In case the ballot caused some confusion, it is worth clarifying that we will continue to be supporting a boycott of the NSS in January, but I will act on the outcome of the ballot result.
“National Conference is the sovereign decision making body of NUS, and the motion passed in April outlines a timeline for the NSS campaign, including union consultation and tactic determination, launching of campaign resources in the autumn and carrying out the action in spring 2017, which have so far been adhered to and I want to be clear in this statement that it will continue to be so.
“The national ballot itself is not calling for a re-debate of the issue, merely an additional activity, which I will take. And to remove any confusion, I want to reiterate that this action is a boycott of the survey, not a sabotage of the results, therefore the focus of the action is on the fill out rate, not NSS scores themselves.
“Unions have been campaigning hard throughout the autumn term on the #TEFOff campaign, with 20 unions to date mandated by their membership to boycott the NSS.
“The result of this ballot will not in any way delegitimise or hinder the support we will continue to offer to those unions, and other unions who wish to campaign in the future, acting on behalf of their membership. Following the consultation phase over the summer, which included supporting participating unions to conduct a risk analysis for themselves, I announced my decision about how to move forward with the HE reforms campaign.
“This included a wide range of actions for all unions to participate in – including lobbying Lords and local MPs, attending the national demo and support and materials to run local actions.
“As we quickly move towards the Christmas holidays and unions shut down for a well-deserved break, I will continue to deliver our mandate on this campaign, and look to increase our offer of local and national support to unions who still need more support on making a decision to take action themselves.
“Respecting member’s wishes in light of the ballot result, I will deliver a risk assessment and an equality impact assessment alongside continued localised support for SUs.
“There will be full details early in the New Year as we assign additional staffing and financial resources to this. However, my priority is, and will remain, to support those unions wishing to campaign whilst we uphold the outcome of the ballot, making sure this additional activity does not curtail their efforts or their commitment.”
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