As institutions battle it out to create the biggest bursary packages to lure students, Central Lancashire University has hit upon a novel idea: asking academics to help boost its funds for student support from their own pay packets, writes Phil Baty.
Malcolm McVicar, UCLan's vice-chancellor, has written to all 2,300 staff asking them to help raise bursary funds.
He says the university has set up the Harris Bursary Fund to "assist local students from 2006 onwards, who may otherwise have been financially disadvantaged and unable to enjoy the benefits and rewards that a university education can bring".
He adds: "We have established a facility for payroll giving, whereby a donation would be deducted from your salary prior to taxation," he writes.
"Alternatively, you may prefer to consider a one-off donation or contribution by direct debit...
"Together we number more than 2,300 staff and I feel sure we can make a difference to the lives of some of the talented yet potentially disadvantaged students from our local community."
One irritated member of UCLan staff commented: "It is such an innovative scheme that perhaps one of the political parties would like to adopt it as a policy for all universities, thus solving the problem of higher education funding."
Andy Pike, national official in the universities department at lecturers'
union Natfhe, said: "It is completely inappropriate to ask staff to contribute. It is absolutely ridiculous."
A spokesperson from the university said: "Any contribution to this fund is purely on a voluntary basis, for those who wish to support this worthy cause.
"UCLan fully appreciates that many students entering higher education in future years are concerned about financial matters and for that reason this scholarship has been put together."