Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scotland’s universities face £200m funding gap, no one is looking at reform of structures only at money, no reform no viable future

Dear All

The problem with higher education is that there has never been serious reform or scrutiny of it by politicians.

And so we have arrived at a funding crisis.

How did we get here?

Universities were allowed to grow little mini empires and fiefdoms but the brains to manage that growth wasn’t there in depth.

You put idiots in charge of some thing sooner or later they will break it.

The culture of cronyism in higher education is to blame, part of corrupt Scotland, funny enough the best minds aren’t in education as some may think.

There is said to be a £200 million funding gap as a result of the introduction of higher student tuition fees in England, the findings of a new report.

So how to fix this, there are essentially three levels of education, university, college and schools.

Universities are a massive financial drain, colleges are under funded and schools are under council control.

And they all want money from the taxpayer.

The solution is to slim down universities, transfer entire departments and courses to boost colleges and bring online new community colleges operating from schools.

Community Colleges are a new way forward, schools become dual use and this allows a revenue stream to go to Councils.

At present schools at night remain for the most part empty.

By stripping out universities, we ensure their future but we should also expect that in future politicians have more oversight.

The days of empire are over.

The current university strategy is trying to maintain the status quo in so much as ‘the clique’ keep full trough rights.

This issue is set to become a key battleground in the forthcoming Holyrood election, the battle for education can be won if someone has a battle plan.

So, far despite recognising the problem politicians are transfixed on the line of least resistance, how to get more money from the students.

This isn't radical, it is very lazy thinking, structures have to change and that takes thought and work.

Is it possible that no one can do this work?

Even at university level?

Apparently at present it appears so!

Unionist parties such as the Labour Party and Conservative Party want the burden fostered onto students; they are currently using the politics of fear.

It’s the State’s problem stupid.

NUS Scotland, which represents students, said the funding gap was “clearly bridgeable” without resorting to tuition fees.

Liam Burns, NUS president, said:

“We’ve seen huge figures thrown around over the last few months, speculating what any funding gap for Scottish universities might be. Now we know the truth. While there is a funding gap, it can certainly be bridged without resorting to charging people for their education, through tuition fees or a graduate contribution.”

Classic university thinking, there’s a problem, our problem who do we try and drop it on to do our work?

Universities Scotland, a paper front for universities supports a graduate contribution of about £3000 a year.

Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim said:

“The size of this gap makes it hard to see how public funding alone would be enough to sustain Scotland’s universities without fairly significant reprioritisations from within the public purse. A fair and modest contribution from those graduates who see financial benefit from their degrees could help to maintain availability of places, assure quality of education and keep the sector competitive.”


We can dismiss Alastair Sim as a non entity.

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party has publicly backed a graduate contribution.

She doesn’t want to do the work either on reform.

Smith said:

“It is time the other parties put their cards on the table and outlined their own ideas for guaranteeing the future of higher education. This issue must be treated with the importance it deserves.”

She copies a soundbyte from universities, stands back, job done and expects some sort of kudos for this?

Is the ability to do ‘photocopy’ academia worthy of kudos?

The Scottish Labour Party puts their focus on the Scottish Government, rather than its own policies, stating:

“The Scottish Government has to stand up to its responsibilities and explain to parliament how it will deal with this issue.”

In other words, we don’t have a policy at present; ‘East Coast Weasel’ Labour MSP Iain Gray considers this as his ‘big idea’ to solve the funding gap?

He is simply unworthy to be First Minister of Scotland.

Not even willing to try, can you believe it?

Let higher education be a Holyrood 2011 election issue, let unionist parties explain why they won’t do public sector reform of higher education.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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