Hit by low pay and Hodge-podge

May 17, 2002

Those at last week's Association of University Teachers national delegates meeting heard an astonishing speech from the minister for lifelong learning and higher education. After stating that higher education had long suffered from lack of investment, Margaret Hodge suggested "a something-for-something" remedy: staff would have to give more to get more.

She argued that academics should not complain about research funding because the research assessment exercise had always been "a mechanism for determining relative quality - not growth in funding". She said the Quality Assurance Agency had led to "reflection on teaching". When someone objected that it stopped people teaching, she said that this was the first she had heard of such an argument and that the 200 teaching representatives should reflect on what they were saying.

She caused a final outrage by stating that casualisation was "a matter between trade union and employer".

To misjudge your audience is one thing, to announce views and policies that are inimical to the values of the sector for which you are minister bespeaks an unbelievable ineptitude. Is this what "education, education, education" has come to?

Howard Moss

School of European Languages

University of Wales, Swansea

News, page 4

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