They knew but did nothing

September 15, 2011

So vice-chancellors could not bring sense to bear on fees and funding policy reforms because universities are autonomous institutions and they knew that charges were going to rise anyway? ("Be ready to hit brakes on reforms if necessary, new UUK head tells ministers", 8 September.)

Surely these are exactly the conditions that should have led to a strong challenge before the event to avoid the awful mess we're in now? The robust case put up within and outside the NHS resulted in significant changes being made to the government's reform plans, even though the proposals came out of the blue and were presented as a fait accompli.

Universities UK and individual vice-chancellors ought to have been able to understand the implications of what was about to be inflicted. They should have foreseen and rebelled against the policy mess that was emerging. One can only conclude that they were content with the policy direction, astonishingly neglectful or both.

The only winners from this fiasco will be the vice-chancellors who were most active in encouraging the policy direction and the marketing agencies that will be brought in on megabuck contracts by the rest.

Mike Goldstein, Streetly, West Midlands

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