Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) council has passed a motion to boycott and replace StudentSurvey.ie, a survey tool used for Irish third-level educational institutions.
The motion sets out worries among the Council that the survey could be used to justify future tuition fee increases, justify course cutting by senior management, shut departments and fire staff which the motion notes has been happening in the UK.
StudentSurvey.ie has previously been shared and promoted by the student union, USI as well as college staff.
The motion was proposed by TCDSU President Laszló Mólnárfi and seconded by Natural Sciences Convenor Patrick Flynn.
Speaking before the vote, TCDSU President László Molnárfi said that the motion aims to reduce the “cookie cutter categories” because “it’s really hard to measure what a good teaching environment is”.
“It is not possible to reform the student survey because its a government survey. They’ll never put anything in this survey that will actually reveal the issues that our students and staff are facing”, he said.
TCDSU Education Officer Catherine Arnold said: “Even within College we know that it [the survey] is relatively defunct”.
Council remarked that it “is a corporate survey that pushes a cookie-cutter logic, and its equivalent the National Student Survey (NSS) is boycotted in the U.K. for commercialising institutions, contributing to course cuts and raising tuition fees”
The motion notes that in a similar way to league tables the survey measures “the wrong things in an educational environment, turning higher education into a competitive market in which institutions are pitted against each other in meaningless categories” claiming it to be a “customer satisfaction survey at its core.”
The motion argued that the survey promotes a “narrow view of education” and lacks context saying it “reduces very different courses at very different institutions to a simple set of metrics, and implies that one can use these metrics to compare and rank courses and institutions”.
According to the motion, Council believes it is difficult to measure if students have been “intellectually challenged in a supportive environment” and such surveys attempt to “reduce the issues facing third-level education to mere managerial issues”.
TCDSU is advising students not to fill out the survey when it is circulated.