164 Views

Students urged to attend demo against £9,000 fees

University students face tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year following the Coalition Government’s unveiling of its plans for higher education last Wednesday.

The cap on tuition fees is to be raised from £3,290 to a basic threshold of £6,000, with an upper tier of £9,000 for universities signing up to a new National Scholarship scheme that will secure financial support for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

These proposals will have the effect of transferring the cost of courses away from the state and onto the student, with increased fees replacing the 40 percent higher education budget cuts specified in last month’s Spending Review. This means that many arts and humanities courses will almost entirely rely on funding from students’ fees.
Universities Minister David Willetts told the House of Commons that these reforms are “progressive” and iterated that, despite Lord Browne’s suggestion to remove the cap on tuition fees, the Government does not deem unlimited fees desirable.

The proposals quickly attracted fierce criticism from various bodies and resulted in a wave of student-led occupations across the UK, including one by Goldsmiths University students who occupied a Town Hall.

Gareth Thomas, Shadow Minister for Higher Education, condemned the reforms as a “tragedy for a whole generation of young people” and warned that they will “plunge our universities into turmoil and jeopardise Britain’s economic future”.

Professor Les Ebdon, chair of the Million+ group of new universities, maintained that proposals provide a “very unlikely” means of securing a “long-term and sustainable basis” for university funding, whereas the Russell Group of leading universities welcomed the proposals as “a life-saving cash transfusion”.

The National Union of Students (NUS) expressed its anger, with President Aaron Porter describing the proposals as an “outrage that could decimate access into our university system, remov[ing] public funding for universities and forc[ing] students to shoulder the bill for devastating cuts to teaching.

“The government is setting policy in the interests of a small number of elite universities and not in the interests of students. The Liberal Democrats frankly should be ashamed of themselves today because they stood on a manifesto to abolish fees; they signed personal pledges to students and their families.

“[They] would have felt incredibly uncomfortable as they heard David Willetts’ statement today knowing that they are being asked to railroad these proposals through Parliament and to betray the students and their families who voted for them.”

Porter had been due to speak in a public meeting at Sussex on Wednesday evening. However, in light of the morning’s announcement, he was required to co-ordinate the NUS’ campaigning and response. Consequently, NUS Vice-President Ed Marsh attended in his place.

Organised in anticipation of the national demonstration organised by NUS and the University and College Union (UCU) in London on 10 November, the purpose of the meeting was to debate the current situation of higher education and the way out of it. Accordingly, the discussion was expected to centre around the Browne Report and the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review; however, the day’s proceedings added another dimension to the debate, chaired by Cameron Tait, the University of Sussex’s Students’ Union President.

Marsh was joined on the panel by Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary and former Sussex student and sabbatical officer, as well as by Clare Mackie, the university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

As the debate progressed, it soon became clear that all three panellists were united in their objection to the coalition’s plans.
“The government is so preoccupied with the benefits that university provides for the economy that they are failing to consider the benefits to society at large,” said Marsh. “It is deeply ideological and regressive to remove all state funding for degrees that are considered somehow inferior to others.

“I encourage all students to attend next week’s demo; only when we are a truly national, radical movement do we stand a chance of successfully opposing these plans. I also advise students pile the pressure onto Lib Dem MPs who signed the pledge – for example, Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, and Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne.”

Hunt also emphasised the importance of collective action.

“The situation we are presented with couldn’t be more serious,” she maintained. “If we do not fight these proposals, thousands of young people will be left without a degree as higher education is reserved not for those with the ability to succeed, but for those with the ability to pay.”

Mackie, meanwhile, welcomed the chance to speak alongside the other panellists, commenting on their “shared understanding of the changing landscape of higher education” and claiming that her views of the proposed reforms were not far from Marsh’s and Hunt’s.

“I come from a working-class family in Glasgow and without access to free education in the seventies, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” she said, “so I am aware of the potential barriers that can exist. However, universities are being forced down this road by a national regime they have no control over.

“Lord Browne is a very convincing speaker and some of his principles, such as that access to university should depend on ability to benefit irrespective of background, I share.”

However, Mackie voiced her concerns “relating to the prospect of debt that his proposals will cause, which will deter the disadvantaged from pursuing higher education. It is argued that spreading repayments over 30 years will lessen the blow; however, there is nothing beneficial about saddling students with debt for decades and I have a problem with the burden of funding higher education being transferred onto students. I believe that we should fund universities by taxing corporations and individuals that can afford to care for weaker members of society.

“As a member of UCU, I believe in collective action and am committed to working closely with students to oppose further cuts throughout these difficult financial times.”

The university released a statement following Wednesday’s announcement, reiterating Mackie’s stance: “We will set our fees for 2012 next year, once we see the full range of government funding and the new student finance arrangements established.

“We will set the fees in such a way that we continue to offer the highest quality student experience and opportunities to talented applicants irrespective of background. We are committed to operating a ‘needs-blind’ admission system for our undergraduate degrees – so that students are offered places according to their ability to benefit, not according to their ability to pay.”

Cameron Tait believes “there is still time to oppose this, but the clock is ticking. March with us on Wednesday 10 November. Pressure the Liberal Democrats to keep their promises. These cuts have no legitimacy.”

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
912 views1
Campus News
912 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
247 views
Arts
247 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
264 views
Arts
264 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
246 views
Arts
246 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
304 views
Arts
304 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
310 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
280 views
Arts
280 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
265 views
Arts
265 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
404 views
Campus News
404 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
212 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
673 views
Arts
673 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
277 views
Arts
277 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
364 views
Artist Focus
364 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
276 views
Interview
276 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
347 views
Arts
347 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
397 views
Arts
397 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
421 views
Arts
421 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
328 views
Artist Focus
328 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
359 views
Books
359 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
456 views
Science
456 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
388 views
News
388 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…