The vice chancellors' organisation has submitted evidence in four parts to the Dearing inquiry, writes Martin Ince. A "vision statement" and summary makes the case for universities as a central part of the "post-industrial, knowledge-based" United Kingdom, emphasising "scholarship, excellence, responsibility, equity, participation, emancipation and citizenship" as its base principles. Then comes the main evidence, a paper on the role of information technology, and one on the case for a new funding system for higher education.
It calls for funding per student to be maintained or increased, and for the UK to spend at least as much of its gross domestic product on universities as do its key competitors. But loans should replace maintenance grants, with the saving in government spending going back into the sector.
The CVCP's key financial point is that the Government can no longer be relied upon to fund universities properly. The CVCP wants renewed expansion and an end to the fall in funding per student.
This means that "other stakeholders", including graduates and employers, will have to start paying as well, and the withdrawal of maintenance payments is only "a first step" which might be followed by others. One prospect is to move to shorter degree courses, although the CVCP wants the three to five-year route to remain standard.
It points to quality and technology as key issues. On quality, the CVCP supports moves to a single quality and standards agency. The submission calls for investment in information technology and in the buildings in which it is used to allow better teaching and research and to allow the UK to compete as a teaching materials supplier.
The CVCP evidence is on the Internet at www.cvcp.ac.uk