November 09, 2010

Letter to my MP about Higher Education Cuts

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Dear Chris White,

I am writing to you because I am very concerned about the recommendations of the Browne Report and proposed changes to higher education. It seems to me that the government is treating higher education like a business, when the act of providing a stimulating and worthwhile education is far more than simply providing a business service.

The proposed changes will only deepen the class divide between Oxbridge and Russell Group universities, and the post 1992 institutions. The Browne Report talks about giving students “choices”, but all this means is that students who have the money will go to the better-off universities and those who don’t will be left with badly funded ones. Bad funding means of course large class sizes, harassed staff and few facilities, and so the vicious cycle continues. The Browne Report tells us that student satisfaction is the measure of university success, but how could students ever be satisfied at a badly funded university?

I have taught at a Russell Group university (Warwick University) and at a post-1992 university (Northampton University). I would emphasize, however, that just because my students at Northampton were attending a post-1992 university did not mean that they did not deserve a decent education. Many of them were lacking in confidence and needed more support, but many developed to be great scholars.

If the Browne Report has its way there will be huge pressure on post-1992 institutions. They will not be able to compete, because they will not be funded properly, and this will mean larger class groups, more hours for overworked lecturers, and fewer facilities. Inevitably, the students that suffer will be working class students who can only afford to go to a post-1992 institution.

Frankly, I am disgusted by the current government’s approach to this issue. It is a cowardly approach, if, when a government hits hard times, things like education are handed over to the whims of the free market (a market which took us into this economic crisis in the first place by the way!). I cannot support you as my MP if you support such an approach, but I continue to hope that you will represent my view as a member of your constituency.

Please contact me by e-mail when replying.


Dr. Zoe Brigley Thompson


Attend the demo against higher education cuts in London on Wednesday 10th November 2010:


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