University teacher training students will be included in this year’s National Student Survey after England’s funding council took the “exceptional” step of agreeing to fund their participation.
The decision comes days after Hefce revealed that the National College for Teaching and Leadership – the Department for Education agency that funds teacher training – would no longer be funding initial teacher training students’ involvement in the survey. As a result, Hefce had asked universities not to include such students as part of the NSS.
But in another letter sent to universities today, seen by Times Higher Education, Hefce states it would “underwrite the inclusion of ITT students in the NSS 2015”, despite them being “outside our funding remit”.
“Following [NCTL’s] announcement we have been in contact with institutions, the [National Union of Students] and representative bodies about this and have listened to their concerns regarding the impact of this decision on the student interest and activities supported by the survey,” the letter states. “Hefce take the view that all students should have a voice, so we have agreed with [the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills] that we will on an exceptional basis underwrite the inclusion of ITT students in the NSS 2015.
“This will ensure that eligible students can participate in the NSS. The necessary arrangements will be made with [polling firm] Ipsos MORI to add these students to the target list.”
John Cater, vice-chancellor of Edge Hill University and chair of the joint Universities UK/GuildHE Teacher Education Advisory Group, said he was pleased that Hefce had done the “right thing”.
“I am delighted that Hefce has acted quickly and correctly to ensure that all undergraduate students, including those on Initial Teacher Training programmes, will now be included in the 2015 National Student Survey,” he told THE.
“I sincerely hope that a more permanent arrangement can now be put in place for 2016.”
The letter adds that Hefce understands that “this situation has been difficult for the affected institutions”, and says Hefce will work closely with Ipsos MORI to ensure that the “inclusion of these students is as smooth as possible”.