Shake-up of education funding looms

The Government’s review of higher education funding, headed by Lord Browne, is due to be released next week. Speculation and leaks from the review have indicated that it is likely to recommend a rise in the fee cap to as much as £10,000, and increase interest rates on student loans.

The proposals will encounter substantial opposition, and may threaten the stability of the coalition government, with the Liberal Democrats having signed a pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees prior to the election.

A month after the Browne review is released, the government will announce its cuts to public spending in its Comprehensive Spending Review. Our sources say that universities, as a non-ringfenced area of government, are facing a 35 percent reduction in funding in the upcoming spending review. Warwick University may be facing additional cuts, with the axing of the government’s regional development agencies (RDAs) also on the cards. Advantage West Midlands, one of the RDAs to be scrapped, funds certain departments at the University, meaning those departments may lose key research funding if the agency disappears.

Student and lecturers’ organisations are gearing up to respond to the recommendations. The National Union of Students (NUS) and the lecturers’ union University and College Union (UCU), in an unprecedented move, have joined to create a united front against higher fees and deep cuts to education. They are organising protests for November 10th, where several thousand students and lecturers are expected to march in opposition to higher fees and cuts to education.

Warwick Students’ Union has initiated a recruitment drive for students to sign on for a sustained campaign against the upcoming changes. As Education Officer Sean Ruston explains, “what we’re doing is building a broad-based campaign to respond to things as they happen throughout the year. The first six weeks will be most intensive, and the aim is to get as many students as possible to the NUS and UCU demonstration on 10 November in London.” Ruston hopes that once students have been signed on to the campaign, they will be able to respond to unexpected developments as they happen.

Warwick SU is “working closely with Warwick UCU. We’ve agreed to extensive cooperation – all campaigns will have the UCU logo, and they’re helping with the cost of buses” to the November demonstration, said Ruston.

A spokesman for the University declined to comment, saying they would wait for the final results of the Browne Review before discussing it. However, Chancellor Richard Lambert and Vice-Chancellor Nigel Thrift have previously argued in favour of higher fees.


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