Brighton MP says white paper will hurt students' prospects

Posted On 28 Jun 2011 at 5:41 pm

The Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas has criticised the government’s white paper on higher education which was published today.

The white paper sets out plans to give students more information about universities to help them choose where to study for a degree.

It also paves the way for private companies to have more opportunities to offer degree courses.

The white paper is published against a backdrop of rising tuition fees.

Council repairs

Most – including Sussex University and Brighton University – will charge the maximum of £9,000 from September next year.

Dr Lucas said: “The coalition’s reckless determination to marketise higher education and increase competition poses a serious risk to future generations of students hoping to attend our city’s universities.

“Just providing prospective students with more information about standards in universities will not change the fact that, for many, £9,000 per year in fees will make higher education an unaffordable luxury.

“And the idea that universities will be ranked according to graduate employment rates and salaries completely ignores the reality that many graduates take up worthwhile jobs which are either voluntary or low paid.”

Satisfaction

Universities will be expected to publish student satisfaction ratings, the percentage of graduates who move into employment or go on to further study and the average salaries of graduates.

They will also be expected to publish teaching hours, say how each course is taught and how much it costs to rent a room, a flat or a house in the area.

The current National Student Survey already includes some of the information that ministers want to see made public.

And the Higher Education Funding Council has published a draft sample of the way in which the “best buy” style information could be presented. To see it, click here.

The white paper is published within a week of Sussex University’s inclusion in the country’s top 20 universities in a leading guide.

The Times Good University Guide ranks Sussex at number 14, up seven places from last year when it was 21st in the league table.

And the ranking compares with 35th place two years ago.

Sussex is listed in the top ten in nine subjects and in the top 20 in a further 13 subjects.

Improving

The university said: “The achievement follows on from rapidly improving performances in league tables for 2012 entry published so far: up four places to 11th in the Guardian University Guide for 2012; and 19th in the Independent Complete University Guide.

“The University is currently 8th in the UK in the THE World University Rankings.

“The Times attributed the rise up the table to improved student satisfaction scores, significant investment in facilities and a better student completion rate.

“The guide also highlighted innovative student support , including the First Generation Scholars scheme, the Sussex Plus and Postgrad Plus programmes, internships and leadership training.”

Professor Michael Farthing, vice-chancellor of Sussex, said: “It is heartening to see the sustained efforts of colleagues, staff and students bearing fruit in these latest league table rankings for Sussex as the university prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.”

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