Free Education means free thought: breaking the grip of ‘tick-box’ Higher Education

UniversityWith the abolition of the teaching grant for all non-STEM subjects and reforms to research grants, the whole HE sector is feeling the impacts of the scramble for the remaining cash. The main sources of funding available for most institutions are now tied to sheer student numbers (tuition fees) and a backwards, elitist research funding framework which relies almost entirely on citations in ‘top’ journals. University managers in turn have changed their strategies to reflect this new environment. Sadly this has all too often meant investing in promotion, marketing and a narrow range of well-funded research areas at the expense of teaching, innovative research and ever-increasing student rents. Continue reading

Corbyn’s National Education Service will not be won without a fight

MarsdenThe issue of tuition fees has been thrown into the spotlight since party conference, after comments made by the new Higher Education, Further Education and Skills shadow minister and MP for Blackpool South, Gordon Marsden, that “nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out” on university funding.

I attended the fringe meeting, and while it is a shame that so many other important educational issues do not make the headlines, such as the Tories’ destructive proposals for a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ or the lack of funding for postgraduates, as usual it is fees which make the news.

The Times Higher Education broke the news, shortly followed by the Guardian‘s education correspondent and then the story became distorted by the Financial Times, who ran the headline, “Corbyn shelves proposal to scrap tuition fees.” Continue reading

We should all share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for education

corbyn logoRecently we have seen Jeremy Corbyn announce his proposal for a National Education Service. This proposal is based around what Jeremy sees as the fundamental and underlying principle of education which is, “A collective good that empowers society and the economy”. It is worth noting that our education system has undergone some changes these last few years, most of which have included cuts, further privatisation through academies and free schools, more curriculum alterations and a continued rise in tuition fees. It is clear that Jeremy genuinely values education and the profession, stating in a written address to The Socialist Educational Association (SEA), Labour’s only educational affiliate, that, “In a fast changing world where new technology is making new jobs and breaking old ones, and information of every kind is instantly available, we need an education system that opens minds and imagination”. In this address he also referred to teachers as “dedicated” and was scathing of the fact that teaching by some, has not been valued as a specialist skill. With such clear passion and vision for education, it is not hard to see why Jeremy has won the supporting nomination from The SEA. Continue reading

Leading student campaigners reject Burnham and Cooper’s ‘graduate tax’

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper’s attempts to impress upon students and win them away from the surging Jeremy Corbyn have been dismissed immediately by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC).

The NCAFC, which was founded in 2010 and has been the organiser of every major demonstration for the abolition of tuition fees since then, has issued a statement: Continue reading

Jeremy Corbyn’s free education pledge is popular, affordable and the right thing to do

JeremyCorbyn1Corbyn’s first policy announcement was to scrap tuition fees and restore the maintenance grants that many students rely on for their rent and food. It was costed at £10bn and two separate strategies were put forward for how to pay for it: slowing down the deficit reduction or raising the revenue through corporation tax and through national insurance on higher earners. Supporters were even encouraged to opt for their preferred option.

The announcement was right in so many ways. Continue reading