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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Labour hit universities with savage cuts

Although Peter Mandelson's decision to slash University teaching budgets by millions of pounds only applies to England it is likely to have an impact on Wales by reducing the amount of money we receive through the Barnett formula.

Colleges over the border will now lose £135 million on top of £180 million in savings they alteady have to find over the next 18 months. In addition a review of tuition fees began last month and will conclude after the general election. It is expected to recommend that they be raised considerably from the current £3,225 a year. That will certainly lead to pressure on the Welsh Government to follow suit, especially now that Plaid Cymru have abandoned their principles and agreed to introduce top-up fess in Wales.

The decision is especially bizarre during a time of recession as surely we should be investing in education and training not cutting it. This is an argument that we have made in the Assembly where Labour and Plaid Cymru have imposed real term cuts of 5% in further and higher education.

One thing is certain, the days of rapid expansion of higher education and targets of getting 50% of all A-level students into a University are behind us. It is that policy that has driven the tuition fee agenda. There clearly needs to be a major rethink on admission targets and the strategic future of the HE sector. That should go hand in hand with the principle of free access to education and training as an essential investment in the future of this country.
Peter, ti'n iawn, was!

The 50% of young people to "university" strategy was born of Blairist class attitudes. The only higher education they thought was of any value was the academic route to a "degree" that they and the decision-making classes followed - the better, I suppose, for entry into one of the "professions" or upper levels of the Civil Service.

We need to rebuild the "FE" part of "HE", modernise and add value to vocational training. We need something like the Technische Hochschule in Germany and to align FE output closer to the needs of industry (and self-employment/entrepreneurship) - and we need FE run by a completely different bunch of people! Above all we need to respect people who are skilled and useful, even though they have not been blessed with an "academic" education.

Hwyl, Nick Hollinghurst, Tring
I agree with Nick.
Ah well thats New labour for you.

merry Christmas one and all.
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