Responding to the government’s consultation on its higher education strategy, NUS President Liam Burns made clear that he finds little solace in debating the technicalities of an approach that is fundamentally flawed.
The title of the white paper, “Students at the Heart of the System” suggests that ministers are seeking to express and represent a positive attitude to the notion of a powerful and influential student in higher education. We believe it delivers nothing of the sort.
Our response shines a light on the following messages to government.
The strategy could destabilise the higher education sector and damage quality
The strategy will not empower students in a way that matches its ambitions
The strategy is socially regressive and tends to worsen inequality in higher education
The strategy has no answers to crucial questions facing the higher education sector
That said, in the short term, NUS and students’ unions must work within this construct to mitigate against the worst aspects of these proposals as well as ensure the positive suggestions are delivered upon – to that end we have made a series of recommendations for how the strategy – in its own terms – must be improved.