Leader: For the good of all, UUK must now fight for cash

March 9, 2001

Everyone in higher education agrees that universities need more money. The body that exists to fight for it, Universities UK, explored the options thoroughly in the Taylor report. But the task now is for universities to take the future into their own hands rather than remain dependent on decisions taken elsewhere. In 1996, the Dearing committee was set up, only to have its recommendations set aside the following year by the incoming Labour government. In 1999, the Bett report on low pay in academe was published, only to be disregarded. It would be a grim hat trick for the sector if Taylor too is ignored.

Now it seems that UUK will not commit itself to a fight for any of the Taylor proposals, preferring to hope for the best in the next comprehensive spending review. Pushing for all the state cash it can get is a valid role for UUK. But the government is unlikely to come up with all that is needed despite this being one of the options Taylor analyses.

UUK's meeting last week ended, like many a scholarly gathering, with a call for more research. Academics who suggest this usually have one eye on their own future income. But for UUK to decide that more research is preferable to campaigning for more cash endangers its role as well as the future prosperity of its member institutions and their employees.

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