White paper faces rough ride at TUC

September 5, 2003

Top-up fees are likely to come under attack at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton next week, writes Phil Baty.

A motion from the Association of University Teachers, expected to be debated at the congress, calls for a campaign to block top-up fees in Parliament. It is likely to be a prelude to a rough ride for top-up fees at the Labour Party conference later this month.

The AUT motion says: "Allowing universities to charge different tuition-fee levels will end the equality of access that underpins UK higher education.

Students will end up owing vast sums of money when they graduate, and the prospect of such debt levels will undoubtedly deter many working-class students and under-represented groups from going to university."

It is critical of the white paper's plans to create teaching-only universities, "since they dilute the fundamental concept of higher education - that teaching and research are inexorably linked", and to focus research funding on an elite few universities.

A motion from lecturers' union Natfhe attacks the "serious underfunding of colleges, and the resultant low pay and staff morale".

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