‘Figurehead’ pointing in wrong direction

The position of Chancellor in a university is a curious one. Chancellors generally seem to have little or no say in the way that an establishment is run, serving merely as respected public face for the university as the genuine administration staff hope that some of the credibility of the chosen personality will ooze onto them.

Sadly for Warwick, its Chancellor is haemorrhaging credibility in the eyes of the academic community, and the big globules of whatever is now oozing from him are drowning the students he represents. Richard Lambert, former Financial Times editor and Bank of England bigwig, has infuriated students and teachers nationwide and had politicians nervously tugging at their collars as they are forced to confront an issue that is a vote-loser either way.

In his capacity as director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Lambert has told students to accept “inevitable” rises in tuition fees, despite accepting that government funding for universities is worryingly low. He went on to say in interviews that funding should come from the student support system.

What this would mean in practice is that maintenance grants would be slashed; income thresholds for means-tested loans would be lowered, meaning that families already struggling to get by would be less inclined to fund a child through university, and gradually higher education would again begin to become a preserve of the wealthy. The student support system is a vital part of our universities and, as many are already struggling to get through a year on the loans presently awarded and too busy to get a part-time job, a reduction in student loans would be devastating.

Whether he actually has much direct involvement with our university or not, he is still a public front for it and should therefore represent the students as well as the university’s financial needs. This affair combined with the recent parking policy changes – changes which see many students unable to afford cars and will see buses overcrowded for the foreseeable future – demonstrate either how little understanding those in the upper echelons of Warwick management have of the financial plight of many students, or how callous they are to that plight, brazenly ignoring it in order to line their pockets.

A protest is being planned for Wednesday October 14, with a planning meeting in MS.04 at 6pm on Friday October 9. The date is chosen as it is one of the rare visits that Lambert makes to campus. The Boar throws its support behind this protest, and hopes that maybe it will go some way to making the bosses realise that there are actually students at this university, and they are for more than just generating revenue.


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