‘OUR universities must remain places of learning, not academic sweatshops,’ UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt warned yesterday.
She was responding to the Tory plan to hike university fees up even further from the current £9,250 a year to £14,000 a year for two-year ‘fast track’ degrees. The proposals would allow universities to sign students up for a two-year degree course and will be presented by the Tories’ Universities Minister, Jo Johnson.
Sally Hunt continued: ‘The government needs to resist the pile ’em high and teach ’em cheap approach to students’ education. Allowing universities to charge more money for an accelerated programme looks like another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education. As well as placing a huge burden on staff, these new degrees would only be available to students who could study all year round.’
NUS Vice President for Higher Education, Sorana Vieru, said: ‘I am concerned. The government’s two-year degree proposals appear to be quickly pulled together and poorly thought through.
‘A large amount of students supplement their term time income through summer jobs – how does the government expect students to support themselves financially? The government claims that this stealth raising of fees reflects condensing three years of access into two, so how can it justify not increasing maintenance support to reflect the increased amount of time students spend studying?
‘Jo Johnson also claims these proposals are good for lifelong learning. With no access to maintenance or fee loans for those wishing to retrain and a sticker price for fees of up to £14,000, I find this very hard to believe.’
Joshua Ogunleye National Secretary of the Young Socialists said: ‘Both the UCU and the NUS miss the point! This government is hell-bent on driving university fees sky high. The only way to deal with them is to kick them out.
‘Lecturers’ union UCU must immediately call a national strike and NUS a national walkout, demanding the abolition of all university fees and the restoration of free university education for all. The full living maintenance grant must be restored to each and every student so that students do not have to work while they study.’