Friday, December 17, 2010

‘East Coast Weasel’ Iain Gray and Labour Party want fight in empty room over university funding, not willing to wait for evidence based solution!

Dear All

Regardless of what was in it the Green Paper on the future of funding Scottish Higher Education was bound to upset someone.

So, who takes the prize for being most upset?

The Labour Party, ‘East Coast Weasel’ Iain Gray and his crew of professional ‘angry upsettees’ are on the war path again.

Opposition for opposition sake is their game, they want to shout and ball like a student protest but without the riot.

No riot?

Well they are only angry in front of a camera and they need to hurry back home to get their ‘tea’.

The Green Paper is a 50-page document which highlights six funding options for universities.

One of the options not mentioned in the Green Paper is a transfer of courses from universities to colleges which would be more cost effective.

We need to teach more students per head per pound.

That is why root and branch reform of universities is needed, at present the debate isn’t being held with the public but within a clique.

The people of Scotland are shut out as university front organisations like Universities Scotland are seen as the ‘official’ spokesman that Government wants to talk to.

At present only one Scottish university is in the top 75 in the world.

In Scotland, the Green Paper rules out the introduction of upfront tuition fees of the kind that have been adopted in England and rightly so, in Scotland the culture is ability to learn not ability to pay among the people.

At present there are about 27,000 students who come to Scottish universities from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, they currently pay tuition fees.

They may experience a real hike in fees so that Scotland doesn’t become the cheap option.

It is mooted that £4,500 to £6,500 could be charged in line with increases in fees south of the Border.

Last night Des McNulty, education spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party and former Court member of human rights abusing Glasgow University said it was the responsibility of the Government to give universities immediate clarity over funding.

McNulty isn’t prepared to wait until all the evidence is on the table so that an informed choice can be made, he like a ‘wean’ wants his ‘porridge’ now.

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party is ruling out upfront tuition fees but wants a graduate contribution, the Tories have already made their minds up, like Labour they don’t want to see the extent of the problem and best possible solution.

So, the ‘concern’ such as it is from Labour and Tory is really all about electioneering, political point scoring.

Universities Scotland, a paper front organisation which represents university principals argues that if public funding does not increase over the next four years it will cost institutions £450 million.

It is time to end university expansion, like the housing bubble it is unsustainable and has burst, new markets need to be developed, the college sector should benefit extensively if anyone is serious about quality and volume of students on a better cost basis.

This isn’t the time to be hung up with labels such as I went to St Andrews as if this endows someone with some type of special intelligence.

And the comparison to England should also be abandoned, Scotland is a separate country.

To add a bit of humour to the situation Michael Connarty, the Labour MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk said if people from other countries in the UK paid more it would amount to "racial discrimination".

Michael, people from the rest of the UK already paid a fee so the concept was established a decade ago.

Just go claim your expenses and keep quiet or at least read up so you are not so ignorant.

The real debate is not how many people are in university education but how many are in higher education in Scotland.

Colleges can train vast numbers of people on a more cost effective basis, the old traditional style of university is defunct, real root and branch reform is needed.

A whole raft of university courses should be transferred to the college sector because most students don’t go on to do research but instead enter the job market.

The days of university mini unaccountable empires must end.

You can get more for less but you need to think outside the traditional university model.

Universities Scotland is the vehicle that the Government should be look at for ideas because they are involved in protectionism.

And who’s asking the public, after all they are paying for it, when is their voice getting heard?

Or are they just there to 'pay the tab' because such ideas are beyond them?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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