Dons call for privatisation

first_imgTop college chiefs are pushing the University towards privatisation in a blow to both government tuition-fee plans and the student campaign against top-up fees. Speaking at a major educational conference, Lord Butler of Brockwell, Master of University College, asserted that students with the ability to pay the realistic cost of their education and accomodation charges must be charged in full. In conversation with Cherwell Lord Butler stated that the government proposals “fall between two stools. £3 000 per student would not solve Oxford’s problems, and the charges would act as a dissinsentive to those from poorer families.” He made no qualms over highlighting his College’s financial woes, suggesting that student and government payments contrribute only 53% of the actual costs. “Many students would be able and willing to pay more,” he added, “Such a move would also solve the current problems over increasing rent charges.” However Butler made it clear that this was not a case of the rich subsidising the poor as fees would be limited according to the cost of their course. He added, “No-one would be more delighted than me if costs were paid through taxation, but education funding is understandably spent at more electorally popular levels.” The plan proposed by Butler, a former head of the Civil Service, has been supported by other wardens, principals and masters. In an unpublished paper, prompted by current debate, David Palfreyman, New College bursar, divides students into three groups according to their parents combined annual income. Students from “Rich England” whose parents earned £150 000 per year would be expected to pay up to £15 000 in annual tution fees, “Middle England” (earnings £75 000+ pro annum) would pay up to £10 000 whilst those earning between £30 000 – £50 000 would pay £1 500 – £3 500+. Families earning less than £25 000 would pay nothing. Dame Jessica Rawson, Warden of Merton, believes the shortfall of funding is even greater, arguing that the government is unable to provide for Oxford’s unique style of teaching. “The current [Government’s] proposals would not benefit colleges at all”, she claimed. Academic inclinations towards the private setting of charges comes in light of the increasing likelihood that the government proposals to charge students a potential £3 000 a year will suffer defeat at the hands of rebellious Labour back benchers. Alan Ryan, warden of New College said that he was in favour of Oxford charging higher fees than other universities because of the long term benefits of a prestigious degree. Proposals such as these would put Oxford on par wth the Ivy League universities, charging up to £18 000. The lure of doubled salaries, job security and reasearch grants has resulted in a growing exodus of academics to America. Recent Nobel prize winner Sir John Sulston was educated at Oxford but produced his breakthrough research at Illinois University whilst ex-Oxford historian Niall Ferguson has also crossed the Atlantic to continue his research. OUSU President Helena Puig Larrauri doubted the credibility of these proposals. In this weeks Funding and Finance Campaign, she told members that “the plans are not only wrong, they are unfeasable”. However David Palfreyman had a chilling warning for both students and the government alike, “If fees are not brought in, Oxford will run itself into the ground. The rich kids a will go to America and we will become like the grotty European universities”.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003last_img read more

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