Fresh call for White Paper reforms to be shelved

Academics at Birkbeck, University of London have called for the government to suspend its higher education reforms.

November 19, 2011

The college’s academic board voted this week in favour of a motion to halt the plans detailed in this summer’s White Paper on higher education.

Passed with an overwhelmingly majority, the motion says the plans could inflict “great and irreversible damage to higher education in the UK”.

It follows similar votes at the universities of Oxford, Leeds and Bath earlier this year, in which academic boards declared they had no confidence in David Willetts as universities and science minister. A vote at the University of Cambridge finished in a dead-heat.

The vote on 16 November was welcome by Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union.

“The government’s plans for higher education have been a complete mess from day one”, she said.

“The delayed White Paper finally came out after universities had set their fees for 2012 and has caused complete chaos”.

A spokesman for Birkbeck said: “The college acknowledges the strong feelings of the Birkbeck academic community that echo academic sentiment across the sector.

“It also recognises the government’s clear intention to create a level playing field for part-time students.”

He said that, as a college specialising in part-time provision, Birkbeck had lobbied successfully for the government to address the inequitable funding of part-time students.

“In 2012, for the first time, part-time students will be eligible for government loans and will not need to pay their fees in advance as they do now.

“Much has been achieved but much remains to be done,” the spokesman said.

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