Chancellor Gordon Brown could help higher education in his autumn pre-budget statement next Tuesday and ease industrial tensions.
First, he could say something about years two and three of the spending review. He could follow the welcome halt to the cuts in year one by announcing real terms increases in unit funding. Employers will have no excuse not to return to negotiations. Second, following events in Scotland and Wales, he could announce a review of student maintenance and fees in England. There is growing evidence that fees must be deferred and some kind of grant restored.
Third, 45,000 students drop out and 55,000 do not get in - almost all from the poorest social classes. Why not apply the same principle to the Pounds 130 million access funds as he did to pensions and give most help to the most needy?
Head of universities department