A report today from Universities UK addresses the very real problem of underfunding in our universities, and suggests tution fees may need to double. In tandem, a BBC survey of Vice Chancellors and Principals in England and Wales finds that over half of them wish tuition fees to be at least £5,000 pa, and suggestions ranged from £4,000 to £20,000.
I feel called upon to make an ex cathedra pronouncement as Rector of the University of Dundee.
What a bunch of arseholes!
How did we reach the position where the people in charge of our institutions of higher learning are among the most stupid in the country? Only one third of them have retained half a marble. “Two thirds believed fees had not deterred applications from students from poorer families.”
That is a terrible condemnation of how remote these people are from their students in particular, and reality in general. The macho management culture that beset these isles led to these people becoming vastly overpaid and cosseted.
The Thatcherite New Labour system of a mass market for higher education, in which students pay, has never been tested in this country in a period of recession. It ran as a model only during the artificial boom of the Brown South Sea Bubble. At present it is mostly the very poor who are put off university by the levels of debt it entails. Whether demand will hold up as it becomes increasingly clear that the choice of whether to go to university will be between unemployment now, or unemployment in three or four years saddled with a huge debt, is still unclear. My money is that demand will be affected. To increase fees at the present would be a ridiculous gamble.
There is also, of course, the very real loss of social mobility. The deterrence to potential students from poorer backgrounds will worsen as the debt mountains become higher – and the number of people who have poorer backgrounds is about to rise substantially.
I regard the ending of the social mobility that came from free university education as the biggest single disaster of the Thatcher/Blair era.
The tragedy is that our universities could be fixed with under 1 per cent of the money that has been poured into the insatiable maw of corrupt financiers. Scotland’s universities need only an extra £200 miilion pa to return to financial soundness. For the UK, the figure is about £2 billion.
The failure of this stupid government to realise that universities are in fact more economically essential than the speculative wings of banks, is criminal.
The money must be found. But not from the students. And those leaders of universities who favour screwing the students further should be sacked en masse.
How the hell did they get the job in the first place?