Report – Oxford passes motion of No Confidence in David Willetts

Fraser Anderson from Oxford University, and an Education Activist Network supporter reports:

Yesterday, lecturers at Oxford University passed a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Education, David Willetts, slamming the ConDem’s education cuts with a staggering vote of 283-5.

Around 50 students gathered outside the Sheldonian Theatre where the meeting took place, chanting ‘students and tutors, unite and fight!’ and ‘David Willetts makes no sense, tutors vote no confidence’. Academics were greeted to massive cheers as they left after the vote, and many joined in celebration with the students.

The concerns of the academics echoed those of the student revolt in the winter. Marketisation, higher tuition fees and huge cuts to government funding will create an unfair and unequal higher education system. Alexandra de Costa, a fellow from St. Hilda’s college warned of university degrees being taught “by the wealthy for the wealthy”. Professor MacMillan said “We don’t want to end up as a finishing school for rich students from around the world”

This is the first time that Oxford University has got so publically involved in the political process since 1985, when the academics snubbed Margaret Thatcher. In protest against government cuts to education the dons refused Thatcher an honorary degree, making her the first Oxford-educated prime-minister since the war to be denied the honour. It is no doubt that the student demonstrations and occupations in the winter have given the academics the confidence to go through with this kind of bold blow to the government.

Oxford is the first English University ever to even debate a motion of No Confidence in a higher education minister. 130 Cambridge academics have submitted a Grace to Cambridge University’s sovereign body, and petitions have started in Warwick and Goldsmiths. We need every University to be showing their disdain for the government’s higher education policies, and we need the students to be fighting together with the academics across the country. This will involve massive support at the UCU picket lines on the 30th June.

Click on link for more info on the No Confidence Campaign

Please send your reports to educationactivist@gmail.com


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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