STUDENT leaders in Sheffield have reacted angrily to the Government’s proposed ‘radical shake-up’ of universities and say they feel cheated by city MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
University of Sheffield Students’ Union President Josh Forstenzer said Nick Clegg, whose Hallam constituency is home to many students, had personally assured him last year the White Paper would contain substantive proposals on widening access to university.
And he insisted the Students’ Union would be seeking to meet with Nick Clegg as soon as possible to discuss the White Paper and try to salvage something from what he described as the ‘train wreck’ the Government’s education policy has become.
The Government’s Higher Education White Paper was promised last autumn as part of the Government’s justification for allowing universities to increase tuition fees, some to as much as £9,000 a year.
It focuses on increasing the role of private companies in higher education, to create ‘greater competition’ between universities.
“This is how Nick Clegg justified his decision to break his pledge to vote against higher tuition fees,” said Josh.
“I thought it was unacceptable then, but now I feel even more cheated since it seems the White Paper will contain hardly any new proposals.
“I think students and young people will once again be left feeling betrayed by this dithering and irresponsible Government and I fear this White Paper will betray the fact that this Government has no moral commitment to Widening Participation and no vision for universities.
“I think the proposal to increase the places for students getting AAB grades at A-level fails to widen access, since the overall cap on student numbers remains the same.
“Over half the students currently getting AAB grades come from private schools and grammar schools, so this does nothing to meet the Government’s stated aims of increasing social mobility.
“The Higher Education sector has been waiting for this White Paper for over half a year and we were promised so much. However, it now appears students are going to be paying triple the amount of fees with no clear corresponding increase in quality.
“We will be seeking to meet Nick Clegg as soon as possible to discuss this.”