Student union measures deregulation

The second Education Quality Survey run by the National Union of Students will track the impact of deregulation on Australia’s undergraduates. The survey, which was run for the first time in 2010, is to be conducted biennially across all university campuses.
 “It has proved a useful tool for the NUS to use when speaking to the government on behalf of students,” said NUS president Donherra Walmsley. Individual student organisations have also been able to use the results to identify areas of interest at their institutions, such as class size or problems with facilities. “Having nationally comparable data makes it much easier for them to make arguments to their universities,” Walmsley told Campus Review.
The last survey collected 6800 responses, this year the NUS hopes to increase that to 10,000, said Walmsley. “We’re trying to get as many respondents as we can,” she said. “Obviously we’re trying to get a spread across different courses and universities, but being run on a volunteer basis, it’s more difficult to try and get that statistical accuracy, but we are trying to assure we get a reasonable spread of data.”
The NUS survey comes on top of regular subject feedback assessments carried out by most universities at the end of each semester, the Australian Graduate Survey as well as the planned University Experience Survey and other new measurements to be implemented under the federal government’s Advancing Quality in Higher Education policy. But Walmsley said the NUS survey’s results would be released more quickly than others and that because it was run by students, they might be a little different.
“The difference between this and all the other surveys that students fill out is that our survey is run by students for students,” she said. “We have a much quicker turnaround on releasing the results. We’ll be releasing our report in August, whereas most university and government surveys are generally released two years after being completed, so students feel that they aren’t really seeing any results in many cases. 
“Students are much more likely to be honest when it’s other students conducting the survey and collating the data. Although the university subject surveys are conducted anonymously, students do sometimes feel that giving negative feedback could impact them in the future.”
This year’s survey includes questions aimed at external and mixed-mode students. Hard copies of the survey are available at student organisations on campuses, or it may be completed online through the NUS website The survey will run until May 30.

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