CHANCELLOR Darling has announced that £600m will be ‘saved’ by 2012/13 from across ‘higher education, science and research budgets, including student support’, meaning that there are to be redundancies amongst scientists, lecturers and university staff, as well as a lifting of the cap on tuition fees.
Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK, the organisation of the university authorities, responded yesterday by stating: ‘The announcement that by 2012-2013, £600 million will be cut from higher education and science and research budgets will be extremely challenging for universities. Universities UK will be working closely with DBIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to work through how the cuts will fall and cause least damage. . .
‘Cuts to these budgets will accelerate the urgency of the discussions taking place into the sustainability of the higher education sector through the review into higher education funding and student finance. It is therefore essential that we review student support costs as part of the Browne Review.
‘We note that the £600m reductions are to come from the £13bn spent on HE (including student support), science and research budgets. We hope that this proposed reduction is fed into Lord Browne’s review of funding so that the appropriate proportion could be met by changes to the current student support system.’
Professor Smith seems to be ready to save what can be saved from the Labour government vandals by throwing the students to the wolves, by lifting the cap on tuition fees and allowing them to be doubled or trebled, with the most prestigious universities charging up to £20,000 or so in fees.
Professor Smith sent the Chancellor a letter in the run up to the pre-budget speech stating: ‘We understand that the global economic shock we have sustained, and the costs of averting the meltdown of the banking system, mean that Government has to make substantial cuts. In the higher education sector, we understand the need to grow our income from non-government sources, building on the rapid diversification of income achieved in the last decade, such that today just under 40 per cent of the sector’s income comes from private sources.’
Professor Smith understands that the ‘substantial cuts’ will mean that university privatisation will be speeded up so that private sources provide much more than 40 per cent of the sector’s income, including that from student tuition fees.
Sure enough the Browne Review is due to report soon on the future of higher education funding, and on by how much student fees will be allowed to rise.
Professor Smith has also written to the Chancellor to tell him that ‘Universities UK will be providing evidence to show how universities and the student experience have benefited from the additional tuition fee income. The review must also consider the important issues of mature and part-time student support.’
For good measure he continues: ‘There is no evidence to show that the introduction of tuition fees in England has had a negative impact on the demand for university places.’
So it is bring on the fee increases and bring in the privateers!
The NUS and the trade unions must demand immediately that there be no education cuts and no increases in tuition fees.
In fact, the trade union and NUS leaders who allowed free state higher education to be abolished and have opposed any return to maintenance grants must be removed and be replaced by leaders who are willing to fight to restore free state education, and to provide a future for youth.
The NUS and the trade unions must begin a national campaign to prevent the privatisation of the entire university system as a direct result of Darling’s policies. To maintain the banks Brown and Darling are willing to sacrifice every gain that the working class has made.
The only answer is a general strike to bring the Brown government down and to bring in a workers government that will restore free state education and bring in socialism.