It’s time for the wrecker of our universities to go…

The government’s decision to postpone its Higher Education Bill epitomises the chaotic and disingenuous approach to higher education of the universities minister, David Willetts.

He has introduced measures that will dismantle the existing university system yet is not prepared to expose them to public scrutiny. He has created an artificial market for student admissions that forces universities into ruthless competition with each other, requiring them to fight with ‘rivals’ over a pool of students with AAB qualifications. Those who lose out will face dramatic cuts in their income. Institutions that fail to recruit enough highly qualified graduates are likely to scrap courses and cut staff costs to meet the shortfall.

Students already have fewer courses to choose from and will now be obliged to take out huge loans from the government to meet their spiralling cost. These loans have been ‘sold’ to prospective students as income-contingent, but in truth they are government policy-contingent since the repayment threshold and interest rates can be changed at will and with retrospective effect.

David Willetts is preparing our universities for privatisation on the shambolic lines established by Andrew Lansley for our hospitals. Yet Willetts is implementing his measures without debate. In October, a select committee set up by his own department urged him to put on hold his artificial admissions market. Willetts ignored this, and has since failed to meet his own deadlines on responding to the consultation processes he himself launched over higher education reform. Over 20 000 people have signed a motion of no confidence in the minister, along with universities including Oxford, Bath, Birkbeck and Leeds.o. It is time for the wrecker of our universities to go

Dr Jim Wolfreys, UCU NEC

Professor Peter Hallward, Kingston University & EAN

Dr. Kate Tunstall, Oxford University Campaign for Higher Education

Professor John Holmwood, Campaign for the Public University


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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