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Untrained voices

Students need to better understand teaching before they judge it.

The student voice has become a prized asset in higher education. Ever since the advent of the National Student Survey in 2005, its stock has risen rapidly. The introduction of higher tuition fees and the reduction in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England have also persuaded universities to take ever more seriously what students say, convinced that the survey’s impact on application numbers becomes more important each year. So concerned are some institutions with maximising their National Student Survey response rates that they have created posts to highlight its importance and prompt students to complete it.

But while both universities and student bodies have concentrated on marketing and promoting the survey, they have paid scant attention to how best to engage students with the process of evaluation. Undergraduates need guidance on what evidence they should draw upon to ensure that their responses are suitably informed and represent a balanced and accurate reflection of their university experiences.

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