Monday, 19 April 2010

Universities and election

I'd just like to forward a couple of bits and pieces from a University and College Union (UCU) newsletter) that pertain to the election. Couple of things to munch on, anyway.

The first is over the notion of higher tuition fees:
Evening Standard poll confirms higher fees a vote loser

A poll for the Evening Standard has revealed that the overwhelming majority of voters are opposed to putting up university fees. The results of the poll are in line with recent polling by both UCU and the National Union of Students that show higher fees to be a vote loser.

Sally Hunt, said: “All the parties must clearly state their fee policies to ensure that students and their parents can make an informed choice at the ballot box and add their voices to the debate on the future of university funding. For the vast majority of people in this country higher fees would be a disaster. We would see the rich able to buy a place at whatever institution they please, whilst the rest scramble around for a place within budget.”

Further reading:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23822931-gordon-brown-continues-to-fight-ni-battle-and-plans-to-bring-morality-to-financial-services.do - Evening Standard
And less directly regarding the election, but something nevertheless interesting I think for most of excretera's readers, is this reality check about staffing levels at institutions across the country:
Universities actually spending record low on staff

The percentage of total expenditure spent on staff in UK universities has dropped to an all-time low, according to figures released on Tuesday. The figures, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show that staff costs as a percentage of total expenditure fell in 2008-9 to 56.8%, compared with 57.4% in 2007-8, despite a 5% pay rise in October 2008 that universities said at the time was on the brink of affordability.

Sally Hunt said: “Universities have been arguing against pay rises on the basis that they already spend too much on staff. These figures are from the last year of a pay rise we were told was at the brink of affordability. When put against the recent massive pay rises for those at the top and the offer of a pay cut for staff, the figures are further evidence that there is one rule for them and one for the rest.”

Further reading:

http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=4539&from=1676 – press release

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article7096704.ece - Times

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7586820/More-than-115000-students-could-miss-out-on-university-place.html - Telegraph

Like I said, a couple little droppings for you to chew over.

And how about that Nick Clegg, eh? He's my MP, you know. And the Second Coming, apparently, now that 80% of the country actually know that he's leading a third party. Wow. I expect...

Well. Let's not get excited. But he had a Good Debate, out-casualising Call Me Dave. (Is 'casualising' a word? Fuck it. It is now. That's why I got a PhD, so I could make up words.) I thought Great Big Gordie won on substance, though. Not that it matters. Funny. The next day, everyone correctly noticed that the debate had changed the face of British politics. But alas, not for the right reasons it seems. Did anyone catch the morning call-in on 5 Live? 'In the context of last night's debate,' texters, tweeters, callers were implored, 'who would you now most like to meet, have a beer with, you know, and why?'

It's enough to make you want to tear you're own eyes out. Or someone else's. (The latter I would recommend if you are new to this. That way, if you make a mistake...) There were issues discussed that night. This really is an issues election -- as most of them are, however that twenty-first century Prometheus named Apathy might swing it. And the debates were a terrific opportunity to hear ideas, or the lack of them. Nice to see, then, the media reducing the whole thing again to celebrity and personality, which seems to be all they are capable of grasping of late. Shame, really. Very shit. And not in the good way.


(Still wondering whether that Prometheus image works. I'm still in two minds. Literary analysis and opinions are welcome.)

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