Professor Nicola Miller, chair of the Humanities and Social Science Matter campaign, argues in a letter in the Guardian today that it is ‘farcical’ of David Willetts to claim that cutting all direct government support for the humanities and social science will improve the student experience. The full text of the letter is below the fold:David Willetts’s reply to John Sutherland ignored all his subtle arguments about the negative consequences for education of turning students into customers (The system is fair and affordable, 7 December). The real question, however, is what any UK university education will be worth, in any terms, if the government cuts direct teaching grant by 80%. All funding for arts, humanities and social science teaching will stop, with sharp reductions for science. That simply does not square with Mr Willetts’s commitment to “more sustainable” finances for universities. Instead of a stable income, they will become reliant on the short-term fluctuations of supply and demand, leading inevitably to redundancies, reliance on part-time teachers, closure of specialist departments and the erosion of the world-leading teaching and research culture of UK universities. The claim that it will lead to any improvement in the “student experience” is farcical.
Chair, Humanities and social sciences matter campaign; Professor of Latin American history, University College London