Lord Browne’s review into university funding, released today, suggests that public money should be focussed on the teaching of “priority subjects” such as science, medicine and languages.
As a mainly arts-based university, students and academics at Goldsmiths College fear cuts in jobs and courses. A leading educational institution on the East London line, the cuts could also be dire for local Lewisham people who are employed by the college.
The report states that the aim is to sustain courses which produce graduates with skills that are predicted to be in shortage and are in the public’s interest.
Courses such as media, fine art and drama face falling to the bottom of the government’s funding priority list despite the UK having the largest creative industry in the world relative to GDP.
A spokesperson for Goldsmiths, University of London said:
“We now need to consider the detail of the new systems proposed by Lord Browne, which cover many issues facing students and universities. The Government’s response to the Browne review, and the Comprehensive Spending Review, are critical in understanding how any new system might work and what resources might be available to support it.”
Lord Browne’s review also calls for the £3,290 cap on fees, which students borrow in loans, to be abolished. Instead, universities will be entering a free market in fees, which could see them charging up to £12,000 a year for a degree course.
The government has indicated that it supports the main thrust of the report, and will be implementing its recommendations for students entering university in 2012. According to Hugh Jones, Registrar and Secretary at Goldsmiths, this will mean that teaching grants will be dramatically reduced if not entirely eliminated at Goldsmiths.
If nothing is done to counter this the university’s income will be reduced by about £15m per year over the next few years – about 20% of its income. However, he also points out that the review opens up some possibilities for Goldsmiths, now that part-time students are eligible for loans to support tuition fees.
John Wadsworth, Senior Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths College and President of Goldsmiths UCU, said:
“The publication of the much leaked Browne Report heralds a massive hike in tuition fees. University staff and students will feel the full impact of these measures.
“It is crucial that we mobilise effectively and demonstrate the strength of our collective opposition to the coalition government’s plans.”
Neil Cafferky, a member of Socialist Students, told East London Lines:
“The Browne review [will] reduce funding for humanity courses. It’s part of cuts we’re seeing across the board around the country. There have also been huge bailouts for the banks and students are paying the price.
“It’s not just working class people who will be affected; it’s big layers of the middle classes. Education will just be a privilege for rich people in this country and rich people from other countries. People living here will miss out even though their tax and their parent’s tax money is paying for it.”
Maxim Fernandez, 28, a former Goldsmiths student, who works in new media, said:
“It’s a good thing I got university out of the way when I did. In a few years it won’t be possible for people like me.”
Grace Gargini, 20, a current Goldsmiths student, said:
“It seems now that the Tories are back in power, we are reverting back to old ways of thinking. Only the elite get the chance to be educated.”
UCU and the NUS are collaborating on the ‘Fund our Future: Stop Education Cuts’ campaign and have organized a national demonstration on Wednesday 10th November.
Reporting by: Jade Impleton-Jackman and Hanna Woodside