V-cs polled on action in face of cut budget

February 2, 1996

The THES conducted a poll of vice chancellors' opinions between January 22 and 31.

The predictive ability of the results has to be qualified by the fact that 38 of the 104 Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals members are not included - 17 declined to participate, with Welsh vice chancellors doing so almost en bloc, while 21 were either unavailable or did not reply.

In addition opinions may have changed over the period of the poll - until last Monday, none of them could be certain of the precise nature of the proposals to be put before them today.

Vice chancellors were asked five basic questions: 1. Will you support a proposal to introduce top-up fees?

2. Will you support a proposal to restrict student numbers?

3. Will you support a proposal to withdraw co-operation from the teaching assessment programme?

4. Is there any other action you will advocate or support?

5. What do you expect the meeting to decide?

Those who answered "no" to the first three questions were asked if they would implement a majority "yes" verdict. Eight opponents of top-up fees said they would. Four opponents of restricting numbers would go along with a majority verdict. Everyone questioned after the levy proposal was known was asked their opinion of it. In addition, all those who had already said they were against top-up fees were re-contacted.

The results of the three main questions, with "don't knows" and "doubtfuls" eliminated, are shown in the diagrams. Results were also analysed for old and new universities. This shows: * The core of resistance to the levy is in the new universities. Nineteen of 26 new university vice chancellors who said "no" to top-up fees are also opposed to the levy. The corresponding old university figure is six out of 19.

* New universities are much more reluctant to pull out of the quality process, splitting only 17 to 15 ins favour of withdrawal while old universities were in favour by 19 to 9.

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