Category Archives: Arguments

Is Privatisation the Real Agenda?

The policy of trebling tuition fees  while cutting teaching grant by 80% is so potentially damaging to universities, particularly the arts, humanities and social sciences, that there seem to be only two possible explanations.  The first is that the government simply does not know what is doing.  That is unlikely.  All the ministers involved have had the benefits of a top-notch university education that will have equipped them with all the skills they need to analyse the situation rigorously and dispassionately.  They will be aware that the cuts in teaching grant will make it impossible for all but a very few institutions to continue offering all but the most reliably “popular” of degrees.  They will be aware that a predictable income stream is a crucial foundation for successful intellectual work to be sustained down the generations, both in teaching and research.  So we have to ask, why are they doing this?

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The Hollowness of “Student Choice” when Teaching Grant is Axed

By Professor Nicola Miller

With no public discussion, consultation, research or mandate, the government intends to impose a supply-and-demand model of university funding that threatens to introduce all the horrors of boom and bust into the UK’s highly successful university sector.  In all the furore about tuition fees of £9000, it has largely escaped public notice that the government intends to cut all direct teaching grant for arts, humanities and social sciences, and to reduce it sharply for science subjects.  Funding for teaching university students will be cut by a staggering 80% — when the highest level of public sector cuts proposed was 40% and the overall average has turned out to be around 11%.  The only reason that tuition fees need to be so high is to make up for these savage cuts.

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If it’s the economy that matters, invest in Social Sciences and Humanities

By Dr Adrian Smith

The present government places the needs of the economy at the heart of its plans for the future of higher education.  Why therefore withdraw all public funding from undergraduate tuition in the social sciences, and the arts and humanities?  The partial reprieve given to the Arts Council’s annual budget reflects a reluctant admission within the Treasury that year on year the creative arts make a significant contribution to our national earning power.  So why deny the need for investment in the next generation of Hytners, Halls, and Hirsts?

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More Readings

At Open Democracy, Michael Collins argues that academics need to put forward a positive alternative case for university reform.

The case for humanities is made by Andy Martin in the Independent, Iain Pears Joanna Bourke , Kate Soper and Stefan Collini in the Guardian.

Not so Fast, Mr Willetts

While supporting the general direction of the government’s reforms, John Springford argues in today’s Telegraph that the government is pushing through its plans for university reform with undue haste and renews the call for a Public Commission of Enquiry.

Some Readings…

Stefan Collini’s review of Lord Browne’s Review of Higher Education
Funding and Student Finance in the London Review of Books.

An open letter from Gregory Petsko of Brandeis to the President of
SUNY at Albany, protesting against the decision to
close the French, Italian, Classics, Russian and Theater Arts departments.

An article by Michael Collins, organiser of the letter to The
Telegraph on 29 November 2010 calling for a public enquiry into higher education.

For a powerful defence of the university as a place of inquiry and critical
thinking
, by Professor John Anderson at the University of Sydney, published in 1935:

For a comparable campaign in Canada, see the 4Humanities site set up at the
University of Alberta. In Sweden, Projekt Athena (Contact: Johan Gärdebo, Uppsala, johan.gardebo@gmail.com)