Expansion to a common goal

February 3, 1995

Unions. The common themes espoused by university unions in their submissions are summed up by clarion calls for a "learning society" - unfettered by financial constraints.

Natfhe, the AUT and the Association of University and College Lecturers (AUCL) envisage much greater expansion and urge improved access for working class school and college-leavers.

The AUT suggests specific targets - that 50 per cent of all 18-year-olds participate in higher education by the year 2010. It predicts that at least 175,000 extra full-time undergraduate places per year will be required by then. The 1963 Robbins report is accepted as articulating basic purposes of HE:the promotion of skills, the development of powers of the mind, the advancement of learning and the transmission of a common culture.

Natfhe adds: "Education is a key element in building individuals' sense of citizenship and the cohesion of society".

The AUT quotes Sir Stewart Sutherland's assertion that courses must provide broad understanding and flexible powers of reasoning. Given the growth of the multinational corporations, "the advantages on the output side of universities may or may not flow directly to the particular state which funded their education . . . if they are to retain their bases in the UK, it will only be because the UK can provide the people and innovations ".

The unions support a strong research culture and oppose "teaching-only" university departments.

The AUCL offers a solution to the shortage of science and engineering graduates - employers should be encouraged to fund students by sponsorship offset against tax.

Unions agree the next phase of expansion must be properly funded and are committed to the next stage of the review on funding issues.

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