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Record of Vice Chancellor’s Question Time, 23rd Feb 2011


This is a record of the meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and certain other parties arranged as a condition of the Occupation in December. It is obviously not a transcript, just a record of salient points. I suggest reading The Linc’s coverage of the event for a more complete picture, which can be found HERE. They got my name wrong. As ever, if anyone has any alterations, feel free to comment.


Chair: Roger Buttery


Chris Charnley, President, Students’ Union

Jack Dobson, Occupation Delegate

Richard Keeble, Professor of Journalism

Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln


Opening Speeches:

CC: Outline of SU position, described anti-cuts/fees fees as “most succesful to date”, stronger as collective. Fees/cuts “vicious”. Emphasises ‘community’ aspect.

RK: Neo-liberal radical conservatism “ruthless”, destruction of welfare state by private sector, bankers, military. Professors expected to be “apolitical” – questions in light of politicised state. Comparisons to racism/sexism. “Discussion not enough.” Roles in communities, e.g. charities, media, NGOs.

Radical students leaders in Arab states revolutions

JD’s speech: To be published separately.

MS: Budget 6th Oct Budget, cut of £82m; £320m cut imposed 2009/10.

Browne report recommends “rebalancing” proportion of state & graduate costs. Original plans: No cap, fines as disincentive. HE lost battle at Comprehensive Spending Review, Public Sector cuts Oct 2010 “iniquitous”. Decision of Fees to compensate cuts already made – £9k cap Lib Dem compromise. Intorduction of National Scholarship, cost £150m. UoL to lose 26m teaching budget by 2015. “Impossible situation going forward”.

Q: In light of the increase in graduate contribution … how can Lincoln still attract students from a disadvantaged background?

MS: Students w. family income <£25k p/a entitled to Scholarship. Widening participation “not an add-on”, as 30% of students from poor background.

JD: Could Scolarships replace EMA?

RK: Implicit disadvantage – lawyers challenging fees policy on Human Rights grounds – “discriminatory at core”, European unis (little or no fee) likely to drain UK talent, Eur. Students put off studying in UK.

Q: What will the management do to justify an increase in fees to future students? Particularly when there is a likelihood that quality will decline due to the cuts.

MS: Uni “worth it”. Several examples of positive impact.

RK: New area, highly demanding, difficult to maintain standards. Mention of Paris – high standards, no fees (but ruthless ac. Culture)

CC: SU has “opportunity to raise standards”

JD: “Education not a commodity”

Q: Further Education cuts: how does the university feels this will affect their further education (college) provisions?

MS: 15% cut to 15-19 FE provision, 100% cut to adult HE? No access fund, FE ‘cuts off at knees’.

Balance of provision tipped from just even to HE subsidising FE,

JD: Campaign to defend.

Q:Riseholme danger?

MS: Yes, must preserve.

Comment: Affects subjects taken at FE. Knock-on at HE.

Com: Oxbridge reinforces class division. Educationfor edu’s sake beneath ‘monolithic’ providers.

MS: Some Vcs speaking out to raise game for HE as public good. Group camaign, blog post next week.

Q: Is the degree of the future simply an instrument towards a job?

RK: It aready is. HE self-legitimises as relevant to employment, bad position when job markets fall. Not tdeology in 1960s. Stress on HE to focus on industries, eg journalism. Argument to regain “academic autonomy”.

CC: Uni teaches ‘life skills’, how to ‘fight for self’.

JD: HE has lost sight of real reason for being: free exchange of ideas, enablement to better self, ‘grow’.

MS: HE fight intensified. Student as Producer project working to ‘hone’, work with idealism. Private academies ‘knock out’ idealism.

Com: How to counter anti-HE propaganda?

Q: How will increased undergraduate fees affect Postgrad/Research funding?

MS: Uni thinking about how to support, ‘not there yet’.

Q: Referring to NUS leak regarding co-operation with fees/cuts. What is UoL’s view?

CC: Not received, “would go straight in deleted box”

RK: Leaks indicative of ‘secrecy culture’.

How to provide distinct experience?

Interpersonal relationships w. staff, avoid ‘ivory tower’ attitude, Student as Producer.

Factory attitude bad – essential to provide ‘that much more’ but requires funding.

MS closing speech: Interest “fantastic”, uncomfortable about VCs/Unis being labelled, many VCs ‘mourning’ e.g. Salford, De Montford, Bradford, “some do not represent all”. Lists numerous HE benefits. Message lost – ref. Hodge 2003, “Why should plumbers…?” VCs to promote HE as antidote to media image. “Let’s be clever.” Chief HE funding company says government moves “too much, too fast, too deep”, cannot afford, have to change.

RK: Media can control message but not response – HE inspires to criticise everything, encourages to question. Media opening up with growth of alternative media.


From → News

One Comment
  1. Jonathan Cresswell permalink


    With regards to the name, we were blogging live and so some mistakes slipped through. If you’d like to point out what the error is we’d be happy to correct it.

    Deputy Editor, The Linc

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