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Nottingham University cuts in Detail

10th July 2011

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The University of Nottingham, along with others in the Russell Group, have announced full support for charging the upper limit of £9000 for tuition fees. At the moment 9% of all income is payed back once the individual begins earning £15,000 annually, with zero interest. At the approval of the coalition government, the Browne Review has raised the threshold to £21,000, with interest fixed at 3% above the government’s rate of borrowing (which is reaching record levels and could trigger the next, predictably larger, financial crisis according to leading economists). Universities charging more than £6,000 will have to undertake measures (bursaries, summer schools, outreach programmes; £4m dedicated for Nottingham) as incentives for poorer applicants.

The interest rate will be zero for students earning below £21,000. The government supports the Browne Review’s proposal to increase maintenance grants to £3,250 up from £2,906, but recommends a lower threshold than the current £25,000. Funding for the Arts and Humanities subjects will be cut, and only the ‘priority’ disciplines like Technology and the Sciences will receive (decreased) support – even the Royal Society has predicted ‘game over for British science.’ Under a Browne Review proposal (since endorsed by the coalition) the loans provided will be capped at £3750 for all income levels, down £1174 from the current maximum.

The Government’s proposals, as well as Chancellor Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review, show a desire to shift ‘funding from the taxpayer to the individuals who benefit’. Public funding will consequently decrease, and the richest 40% of graduates will pay considerably more overall than they do now, but the poorest 20% will pay less. Cuts to teaching and research at Nottingham will reach £12 million during the 2011-12 academic year (‘we’ are finding these to be ‘challenging reductions’ says the Vice-Chancellor, lacking specificity). The cuts to the university’s finance will also damage the East Midlands’ economy, according to the Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent, who sees the two universities as important drivers of the local economy.

Under a more democratic process, tax-day would a time of celebration, as the public would decide directly into which institutions of ‘priority’ their money would be sent. The rugged entrepreneurial values advocated by the current measures negate the principle that we care about the welfare of others – market discipline for ‘you,’ but not for ‘me.’ Instead, if only the richest students are filtered through the right universities and the poor are given ‘tough love’ by fighting amongst themselves for the chance of a steep tuition fee, before being financially trapped for decades, then the methods of discipline are instilled, and the population – it’s hoped – becomes the quiet and obedient test-passers envisioned by the founding fathers of modern education at the time of the industrial revolution. The half a million strikers who earlier this year marched against the largest cuts since the early 1920s (the second largest demonstration in the history of London) are strong signs of an effort to prove this ideal to be a false one.

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