Letter: Vacillating v-cs (1)

March 23, 2001

You and your correspondents are misguided in attacking Universities UK for not choosing one of the four funding options in the Taylor report.

If this government can ignore the preferred option of its own Dearing inquiry on the very day its report was published, what odds on a UUK-preferred option being taken seriously if it conflicts with government policy?

There is, however, a clear policy conclusion in the Taylor report that all can rally behind. The government itself has ruled out, for the life of the next parliament, the only one of the Taylor options that generates increased private funding immediately. All the other options, increased public funding, income-contingent graduate contributions and an endowment fund, imply increased public funding in the short term.

So, the real policy question arising from the Taylor report for government is: does it accept the under-funding of higher education and the need for additional funds set out in the report? If it does, and it has ruled out additional private fee income, then it needs to provide extra public funds, whichever of the other three options is favoured. If it does not, it needs to explain itself loud and clear to the higher education community. And we are listening.

Leslie Wagner
Vice-chancellorLeeds Metropolitan University

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