The National Student Survey is under pressure. Universities spend a lot of time circulating statistics, but I wonder who submits these – it probably tends to be the students who are most impressed or least impressed with their courses – and do these students always appreciate what they’ve been given. I certainly didn’t realise some of what I learnt until after I finished my degree, and really started to value some of what I hadn’t understood at the time:
The National Student Survey puts pressure on lecturers to provide ‘enhanced’ experiences. But, argues Frank Furedi, the results do not measure educational quality and the process infantilises students and corrodes academic integrity
One of the striking features of a highly centralised system of higher education, such as that of the UK, is that the introduction of new targets and modifications to the quality assurance framework can have a dramatic impact in a very short space of time. When the National Student Survey was introduced in 2005, few colleagues imagined that, just several years down the road, finessing and managing its implementation would require the employment of an entirely new group of quality-assurance operatives. At the time, the NSS was seen by many as a relatively pointless public-relations exercise that would have only a minimal effect on academics’ lives. It is unlikely that even its advocates would have expected the NSS to acquire a life of its own and become one of the most powerful influences on the form and nature of the work done in universities.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.