What is the most right-leaning, left-leaning or centrist university?
A Times Higher Education election survey asked higher education staff which party they plan to vote for, gaining 1,019 responses and finding that 46 per cent plan to vote Labour, followed by Green (22 per cent), Conservative (11 per cent), Lib Dem (9 per cent) and Scottish National Party (6 per cent).
The survey also asked respondents to state which university they worked at. The numbers at institutional level are very small – so carry a large caveat as to how representative they are. However, there were 10 institutions with 20 or more respondents each.
Among these, Labour had the strongest showing from respondents at the University of Nottingham (where 70 per cent planned to vote Labour), followed by the University of Sheffield (69 per cent) and the University of Leeds (68 per cent).
The Tories’ best results were at London Business School (31 per cent), the University of Kent (20 per cent) and University College London (19 per cent).
The Lib Dems fared best at the University of Manchester (19 per cent), Kent (16 per cent) and Sheffield (14 per cent).
The Green Party enjoyed its highest levels of support among respondents from the University of Oxford (33 per cent), Kent (24 per cent) and UCL (23 per cent).
The SNP was most popular for respondents at the universities of Glasgow (70 per cent) and Edinburgh (48 per cent).
Meanwhile, the last weekend before the UK goes to the polls on 7 May saw a series of clashes and statements among the major parties on the subject of tuition fees.
On 2 May, the Labour Party said its analysis showed that the “extreme cuts” being planned by the Tories and Lib Dems would “leave a £1.5 billion shortfall in the higher education budget by 2018-19”.
Labour claimed this meant that the Tories and Lib Dems would have to increase fees to £11,500 to maintain funding levels, “increasing debts for both students and taxpayers”.
In a speech on 3 May, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said: “I won’t break my word as Nick Clegg did. If I had done what he did five years ago, I don’t think I could ask you for your trust again. I will cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000.
“And I tell you this, if I fail in this task, I won’t be standing here again in 2020 making more promises. I won’t be standing for the office of prime minister at all. Because there should be consequences when people’s trust is let down.”
On 3 May, Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. He was challenged by Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, to say whether he would rule out another rise in fees – and declined to do so.
Mr Clegg also said during his appearance on the programme: “We were between a rock and a hard place. Why? Because as you know, fees had been introduced – I know they want to airbrush this out of the record – by the Labour Party.
“It was the Labour Party who increased fees, it was the Labour Party that commissioned the report by Lord Browne.”
On 4 May, journalist Andrew Neil, presenting the BBC’s Daily Politics show, asked William Hague, the former Tory leader, whether the Conservatives would rule out a rise in fees.
Mr Neil said: “You haven’t ruled out that they could be raised in the next Parliament?”
Mr Hague replied: “We haven’t ruled that out.”
Mr Hague also said: “We haven’t specified the future level of university fees but I think the scare stories put about by the Labour Party are extremely misleading. They are just designed to frighten the voters before the election.
“We’ll continue to act in the interest of universities prospering and of record numbers of students going to university, which is what we have achieved against all predictions and forecasts over the last five years.”