THE University and College Union (UCU) yesterday condemned the decision by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to reduce funding for university teaching by £65 million.
The union said that the new efficiency savings would do irreparable damage to quality and provision in the country.
It added that the £65 million cut was just the first part of government plans to make £180 million pounds worth of ‘efficiency savings’ from higher education by 2010-2011.
The union warned that the £65m cut will equate to the loss of a further 1,500 full time lecturing and support staff just days after the union revealed university staffing cuts affecting 100,000 students.
The £65 million is just the first of a wave of cuts throughout higher education.
Meanwhile, the government is canvassing such schemes, as students staying at home with their families and going to a local university having to pay no fees, but not receiving any further financial assistance from the government for their education.
This is the Labour reaction to tens of thousands of students being unable to get jobs and pay back their student loans.
The harsh reality is that even if parents could afford to keep their children at home while they studied, there are entire regions of the country where many subjects, crucial ones such as maths and the sciences, are not available any more due to the cuts and closures of universities that have already been carried out.
In fact, the biggest cuts in the £65 million reduction are at those universities with the most students: £2.5m at the Open University, £1.4m at Manchester and £1.2m at Leeds.
The impact of the funding cuts will be compounded by this week’s announcement that universities in England will recruit another 10,000 students this year – but will not be given any funding for teaching them.
The £65 million, just part of the £180 million cuts package, is just the start of the cuts avalanche which will emerge after the next general election, when the financial crisis of British capitalism will dictate cuts of up to 20 per cent in all government departments, excepting defence of course.
This will see many universities forced to close with the jobs of tens of thousands of university workers and lecturers abolished, while there will be major cuts in the numbers of subjects taught, and also in the numbers of students that the university system can take.
The current £3,145 cap on tuition fees is due to be lifted in 2010 and many of the elite universities are already campaigning to be able to charge unlimited fees.
They say this is the only way that they can continue to teach to their expected standard, without a massive financing by the government.
The future for students and the university system under capitalism is indeed grim.
The responsibility for this lies with the Blair-Brown governments.
Its ministers after all, despite the fact that they all enjoyed grants during their student days, abolished them in government and brought in fees, and a regime of student loans, putting an end to free state education.
Now they are about to lift the cap on fees, and open up an era of unlimited fees, right at the time when they intend to end the loans system, because of the ‘repayment problem’.
The only way forward for higher education is through a socialist revolution that will abolish fees and loans and restore full student maintenance grants and a proper state financing of the universities.
The first step in this socialist revolution is to bring down the Brown government and to bring in a workers government that will nationalise the banks and the major industries, under workers control.