THE SCOTTISH Trades Union Congress has condemned government plans for student fees as "ill-considered and regressive" and deplored the Dearing committee's recommendation of tuition fees.
The STUC, which met last weekend, unanimously backed an emergency motion from the Association of University Teachers Scotland calling for Scottish Office policy to protect and enhance the appeal of higher education to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also asked for assurances that Scotland's longer degrees did not mean higher costs to students and a guarantee that any student contributions counted as extra funds for higher education.
The AUTS has asked Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar to make employers contribute more towards the cost of higher education, and not to implement the projected 6 per cent real terms cut in the sector's budget next year.
The STUC backed another AUTS motion condemning the damage caused by the "narrowly academic nature" of the research assessment exercise, and selectivity in allocating research funds.
The Government, and the anticipated Scottish parliament, must review research funding in order to strike a better balance between the need to strengthen centres of excellence and the need for general research.
The motion said it would be disastrous to concentrate research expertise in "one or two universities in the central belt".