An act that Labour must repeal to save higher education
(published in The Guardian 12 May)
We commend the Labour Party for calling for the end of the current £9,000 student tuition fee-and-loans regime – for HE and FE.
High tuition fees have been catastrophic for social mobility. They triggered a collapse in part-time study and cut late returners to Higher Education. It is nonsense to claim that the fee regime is ‘progressive’.
They are also, paradoxically, more expensive than the previous £3,000 fee. In 2014 the Guardian reported the Treasury admitting that the rate of student debt write-off was predicted to ultimately be over 45%.
The high fee was designed for one purpose: to make HE privatisation profitable. David Willets introduced the fee as part of a package of measures: the partial abolition of the ‘block grant’, removal of caps on student numbers, and now – with the appalling Higher Education and Research Act (HE Act) and Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the effective deregulation of the sector. The Conservative aim, outlined in their own Green and White Papers, is to allow companies with little or no track record in education to set up private universities, paid for by the taxpayer through fees and loans, offer ‘degrees’ without oversight, and – if it all goes wrong – shut up shop abandoning students to their fate.
We commend Labour for demanding an end to the tuition fee regime, but we call on them to go further. If the Party is serious about rescuing HE in the UK it must commit to repealing the HE Act, and support the reintroduction of rigorous academic standards in the sector.
Sean Wallis, University College London, UCL UCU VP, UCU National Executive Committee (NEC) member, and joint editor of the Alternative White Paper for Higher Education (AWP)
Prof John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, Campaign for the Public University (CPU), AWP joint editor
Rachel Cohen, City, University of London, UCU NEC, AWP joint editor
Tom Hickey, University of Brighton, Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU), AWP joint editor
Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London, CPU
Prof Des Freedman, Goldsmiths University of London, UCU Branch Secretary
Malia Bouattia, NUS President 2016-17
Bruce Heil, Open University, UCU NEC
Patricia McManus, University of Brighton, UCU NEC
Chris Jones, Neath Port Talbot Group, UCU NEC, vice chair UCU Wales
Xanthe Whittaker, University of Leeds, UCU NEC
Sue Abbott, University of Newcastle, UCU NEC
Julia Charlton, Northumbria University, UCU NEC, Senior Lecturer, UCU NEC member and Branch Chair
Julie Hearn, Lancaster University, UCU NEC
Elizabeth Lawrence, Immediate Past President, UCU
David Muritu, Sandwell College, UCU NEC
Paul Errington, Teesside University, UCU NEC
Jo McNeill, University of Liverpool, President, University of Liverpool UCU, and UCU NEC
Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow, UCU NEC
Carlo Morelli, Dundee University, Senior Lecturer, UCU NEC
Lesley McGorrigan, University of Leeds, UCU NEC
Mandy Brown, Lambeth College, UCU London Regional Secretary, UCU NEC
Sean Vernell, City and Islington College, UCU NEC
John Murphy, Blackburn College, UCU branch vice chair, UCU NEC
Margot Hill, Croydon Gollege, UCU NEC
Christina Paine, London Metropolitan University, UCU Coordinating Committee, UCU NEC elect
Lesley Kane, Open University, UCU NEC elect
Richard McEwan, Tower Hamlets College, UCU FE national negotiator
Nita Sanghera, Bournville College, UCU NEC elect
Rhiannon Lockley, Halesowen College, UCU West Midlands Chair, UCU NEC elect Continue reading