Oxford and Cambridge show the way – No confidence in Willetts

National campaign for a vote of no confidence

Academics at both of our most prestigious universities, Oxford and Cambridge, have submitted motions calling for their respective universities to announce their last of confidence in the policies of the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts. Oxford will be debating this motion at ‘Congregation’, the university’s sovereign body today (this Tuesday), with the vote from Cambridge expected later this month.

This week, a group of academics and students from Oxford launched a *national campaign for votes of no confidence*  to be taken across the country. Already universities such as Goldsmiths in London, and Warwick University have taken up the call and launched petitions of their own.

Whilst Oxford and Cambridge are the only institutions with the democratic governance process which allows a free debate and vote to decide on such issues, it is important for both academics and students at across the country to take up the cause and pressurise their universities into announcing their lack of confidence in Willetts’ policies. With support from around the country, it will be impossible for the government to continue to ignore the campaign, and they will be forced to take action.

The campaign outlines their reasons for passing a vote of no confidence on their website:
1.      The Government’s policy is financially chaotic and unsustainable. The Treasury budgeted for an average fee of £7500, but now more than two-thirds of Universities want to charge £9000 for some or all courses.
2.      The 80% cut to the HEFCE Teaching grant will leave Universities systematically underfunded even with higher fees.
3.      The academic profession in the UK has never been less attractive. The debts incurred to go through both undergraduate and postgraduate study could be as high as £87,000. Money for research is also being cut in real terms and what remains is being focused on the Government’s short-term agenda.
4.      The consumer-producer relationship which the Government policies are designed to set up will undermine the spirit of academic community which is at the heart of the ethos of Higher Education.
5.      The embarrassing U-turns of recent weeks are signs of a policy in total disarray. The HE sector is too important to be thrown into chaos by half-baked ideas and rapid rethinks.
6.      The licensing of for-profit institutions to award degrees and the advocacy of overseas franchising by existing Universities are a threat to the reputation of the UK University system as a whole.

By this (Tuesday) evening we will know the outcome of the debate in Oxford, and we can only hope it is the start of a trend across the country that leads to the types of educational reform that support our universities and fair access, rather than the current half-baked policies that serve to do no more than confuse and deter potential applicants, and remove vital funding from our universities.

If you care about the future of higher education, then please join the campaign, and persuade your friends/tutors/lecturers/students to do the same. United we can make a difference before it is too late.

About educationactivistnetwork
The education activist network provides national coordination for trade unionists, academics, university workers and student campaigners fighting to defend jobs and education in the UK.

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