A letter sent by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to universities, seen by Times Higher Education, states that the National College for Teaching and Leadership – the government agency that funds teacher training – “does not wish to fund [initial teacher training] students’ participation in the [NSS] 2015”.
“As a result these students have been removed from the list of students to be surveyed,” the letter continues. “We are asking institutions as far as is possible not to ask students on ITT courses funded by the NCTL to complete the survey.”
One vice-chancellor, who did not wish to be named, said the “unheralded announcement, days before the commencement of the NSS and without any consultation whatsoever, is an insult to each and every” ITT student and called it a “disgrace”.
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+, the body representing post-92 institutions, said the move represented another “own goal” by the NCTL.
“One can only assume that NCTL would prefer prospective trainees not to be informed by evidence of the high satisfaction rates linked with university teacher training courses,” she added.
Hefce expressed its regret that it was “not possible for us to indicate that ITT students would not be participating in the NSS 2015 until this late stage” and that the decision will have an “impact on institutions’ promotion of the survey”.
John Cater, vice-chancellor of Edge Hill University and chair of the joint Universities UK/GuildHE Teacher Education Advisory Group (TEAG), said the decision was a “complete surprise and a considerable disappointment”.
“It contradicts government policy since 2005 and is in conflict with the current administration’s firm commitment to ensure that a full range of empirical evidence is available to students and trainees entering programmes of study,” he said.
“Those following ITT programmes are paying the same fee as all other undergraduates and have the same right to have their opinions heard and taken into account.”
James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet), said the decision was to be “regretted” as the “introduction of the government’s teacher-education reforms mean that there is a greater need to collect information about student perceptions than perhaps at any time in recent years”.
An NCTL spokesman said: “We conduct a survey of Newly Qualified Teachers each year, which is more in depth and specific to initial teacher training than the NSS.
“We have decided to focus resources on our more detailed survey, which provides valuable information about the quality of initial teacher training and how well that training has prepared NQTs for teaching.”