100 signatures reached
To: Universities Minister Michelle Donelan
Save higher education from a rapidly approaching crisis
Marketisation of higher education has been a disaster for students and universities. Students are graduating with thousands of pounds worth of debts. Universities are forced into false competition with each other, spending millions on marketing and attractive buildings when the nature of higher education and research suggests that cooperation makes much more practical sense.
The current crisis will result in an acceleration of the effects of opening higher education to the failed principles of competition. A significant dip in student numbers will leave some institutions on the verge of bankruptcy without government intervention.
Universities don’t just need cash bailouts. We need a fundamental change in the nature of higher education, where mutual cooperation in teaching and research is recognised as superior to false competition. We need universities to be seen as an integral part of a full education system, free for all and available for the benefit of society as a whole.
We are calling on the government to:
- Abolish tuition fees!
- Guarantee the sustainability of every university!
- Bring all universities into a fully-funded education system with elected local and national leaderships accountable to staff, students and the wider community!
Why is this important?
Universities are facing an unprecedented threat to their finances, estimated to be a total shortfall across the sector of up to £2.6 billion in research commissioned by the University and Colleges Union (UCU).
All of the trade unions representing staff in the sector wrote to the Universities minister on the 3rd of April asking for financial guarantees and for the protection of jobs that would otherwise be at risk without government support. The only response of the government so far to the impending crisis has been a statement made on the 4th of May that offered little else than the advance of some tuition fee income and a restatement of the support offered to all other sectors.
If higher education is left to respond to this crisis in the same way it conducts "business as usual" this could mean institutions going out of business, large numbers of redundancies and a drastic reduction in the quality of education, training and research at a time when we may need it more than ever.
We need a new approach and for government to take an active role in protecting this vital sector of the economy.