Misplaced anger

August 24, 2017

I’m not sure why Andrew McRae thinks that students at those universities that did not receive sufficient National Student Survey responses to make the ranking should be “bloody angry” (“Sabotaged NSS results are an ‘own-goal’ for UK higher education”, News, 9 August). Students are not completing the survey to rank their institution against others; if that were their motivation, the NSS would be even more exposed to claims that it does not really measure teaching quality, except in some vague, ill-defined way. That those 12 universities do not feature in league tables does not mean that the voices of students at those institutions will not be heard. As McRae says, their responses will be available internally. It is, as he notes, the managers of universities – some of whom will be “breathing sighs of relief” – whose concerns are external, about their institution’s relative placing and marketability. That should be our concern about the NSS and, by extension, the teaching excellence framework from which is it derived.

David Mead
Professor of UK human rights law
University of East Anglia

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