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Vice-Chancellors must defend students and universities

Thursday 25-11-2010 - 00:00

The National Union of Students (NUS) has today responded to a speech by Steve Smith, head of vice chancellors' lobby group Universities UK by calling on vice chancellors to defend students and universities in which he said his support for Government proposals was conditional upon a long-term commitment to public investment in higher education.

Both Steve Smith and Aaron Porter, NUS President today addressed UUK’s higher education funding debate in central London,

Aaron Porter, NUS President said: 

"Instead of seeking to extract yet more money from the pockets of students and their families, should have spent valuable time defending a higher education system which is being sent to the dogs. It was foolhardy in the extreme for any vice chancellors to believe their incessant lobbying for higher fees would do anything other than ensure swingeing public funding cuts that would remove 80 per cent of the university teaching budget."  

"The notion that there is a choice between tripling fees or reducing student numbers is a dishonest binary and a false choice. As every other OECD country invest in its universities, England stands alone with Romania in cutting back and failing to fund the higher level skills we need for our future. Steve Smith should be defending the role of universities for economic recovery, social mobility and cultural enrichment but is allowing them to become the most expensive public universities in the world."

“Key questions remain unanswered about the Government's proposals, crucial aspects of the proposals are so lacking detail that independent analysts have been unable to fully assess their fairness or value for money for the taxpayer, and the public are protesting on the streets. The last thing students and families want or need is for ill-thought out proposals to be steamrollered through Parliament without proper scrutiny just because vice chancellors want to hit their prospectus print deadlines."

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