Lord Andrew Adonis, one of the architects behind Labour’s increase of tuition fees, has suggested via Twitter that Sussex’s Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell ‘shamelessly milks his students’ of their finances, naming Sussex as ‘especially bad’ in his remarks about so-called ‘ripoff universities’.
The former Labour politician posted a thread of tweets after he was reportedly ‘deluged by facts’ by students who are dissatisfied with what their university doesn’t provide. Naming Sussex specifically, Lord Adonis continued by criticising the price of facilities on campus, such the price of a gym membership and printing costs in the library, as well as issues with accommodation and the limited contact hours available to humanities students.
During his time in the Blair government of 2004, Lord Adonis was a prominent figure behind the then increase in tuition fees, installing a new cap at £3,000, owing it to being a ‘reasonable contribution to the cost of university tuition’. More recently, he has been an outspoken critic of the rise in tuition fees to £9,250, and particularly denounces the ‘cartel’ of Vice-Chancellors who ‘rip-off’ their students. In his recent thread, he specifically hones in on Sussex Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell, whose salary sits at a lucrative £295,000.
In an exclusive interview with the Badger, Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell commented that he is paid the average salary compared to other Vice-Chancellors in the UK, and less than his international counterparts. The Vice-Chancellor also acknowledged that students are worried about rising levels of debt, but believes concentrating on pay takes away from the ‘real issues of intergenerational injustice,’ instead placing importance on getting to the root of issues to tackle housing, pensions, and employment opportunities.
This Twitter outburst was met with mixed opinions, with some in support of Lord Adonis’s remarks about the costs placed on Sussex students. Some twitter users have noted that international students face even higher costs, and that the same criticisms of accommodation and Vice-Chancellor’s salaries are worse at other UK universities. Specifically focusing on the lack of contact hours, some users disagreed with the claims, noting that individual learning is integral to higher education, and less contact hours ensures certain concepts and reflections can be made on set pieces of work. Other users went as far to place some element of blame on Adonis himself, noting that his commitment to increase fees in 2004 was linked to the larger rise that occurred from 2010.
In response to these statements, Sussex University commented that all feedback is taken very seriously, no matter who it is by, and that they shall be looking into these comments. The University has said action will be taken on the back of this feedback, wanting to make sure “every student has the best experience possible.”
As the Vice-Chancellor confirmed to us in his interview with the Badger, a survey is being commissioned for students to provide feedback of their experience of the first few weeks of term.