The NSS now includes environmental sustainability

Thursday 08-03-2018 - 12:23

NUS has been calling for the National Student Survey (NSS) to include questions about environmental sustainability for five years. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has now agreed.

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Through the inclusion of questions about environmentally sustainability in the NSS, we hope that these priorities will become mainstreamed and legitimised in universities. If institutions choose to share their data, the student movement will have access to possibly national-scale information about institutions’ environmental performances.

The newly-added questions are as follows:

  • My institution encourages good environmental practice
  • My course has encouraged me to think about environmental sustainability
  • I have had opportunities to take part in activities supporting environmental sustainability

Currently, the questions are in the optional question bank – and we know that some institutions, such as the Royal Agricultural University and Anglia Ruskin University, have already opted to include them this year. Please get in touch and let us know if your institution has included them too!

Now we are calling on students’ unions and others to push their institutions to include these questions about environmental sustainability in next year’s NSS. No time like the present to start the lobbying, since these things can take a while to get firmed up.

Including these new sustainability questions in the NSS is valuable in and of itself. NUS’s boycott of the NSS because of its link to fees reflects our commitment to fighting the marketisation of education. The inclusion of sustainability questions by institutions, however, will be an important step regardless of whether or not students boycott the survey. Including questions about environmental sustainability will both send a message that this issue is and should be central to higher education, and collect data that –  if shared with NUS – will support the student movement in its campaigning.

Director of Education for Sustainability at Keele University, Zoe Robinson, had this to say: “The more people who know about this and can lobby for these questions to be adopted within their institution, the more we have another significant lever for more action in the area.  Ah, the irony of using those neoliberal marketised tools for different ends.”

Finally, thanks to all who responded to HEFCE’s consultation survey on this a few years ago – your voices have been heard!

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