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NUS responds to Nick Clegg’s “astonishing” letter on tuition fees and education cuts January 2, 2011

Posted by AaronPorter in Uncategorized.
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NUS responds to Nick Clegg’s “astonishing” letter on tuition fees and education cuts

Link to full letterhttp://www.nusconnect.org.uk/asset/news/6001/Nick-Clegg-response-30-11-10.pdf

Aaron Porter, NUS President, today responded to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s letter which sought to mollify recent student protests by claiming that protesters did not understand the proposals. 

The response comes on a third day of national action against the proposed changes which will include a rally at Trafalgar Square.

In his detailed and lengthy response Mr Porter calls attention to the many “ways in which these proposals are problematic, misleading or damaging” and presents counter-arguments, including:

  • The coalition have not properly considered a graduate tax and have dismissed the idea based on a ‘pure graduate tax’ system that has not been proposed
  • They recommend a foolish and extremely risky approach to funding the higher education sector, with a rapid move to an unconstrained market in which students meet almost the whole cost of teaching
  • They accept at face value the lazy myth that competition on price between universities leads to higher quality, and accepts the falsehood that fair access can be achieved through so-called ‘needs blind’ admissions and a trade in bursaries or scholarships, whilst dismantling the education maintenance allowance (EMA) and AimHigher schemes
  • They ignore the probability that with much higher fee levels, prospective students – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – will change their behaviour and make judgements primarily on prices, costs and debt

In the letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Aaron Porter writes:

“All of your party’s MPs signed personal pledges to vote against higher fees. Those pledges did not offer voters making decisions on the basis of those signatures the additional information that you would seek to abolish fees if you won, but agree to triple them if in coalition. The anger felt at this betrayal is real, justified, and desperately disappointing to those who placed in you their hope for a different politics.”

“The Government is, in effect, proposing a vote to triple fees before Christmas; a vote to make them ‘progressive’ after Christmas; and a vote on legislation to deliver value for money for those fees much further down the line. This process is nothing short of a democratic disgrace and should be resisted by MPs and Lords of all parties – and especially by you. For these reasons, I would urge you to reconsider the process that you are looking to undertake with regards to changes to the system.”

Read the letter in full here 

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