Saturday, 6 January 2018

As if Tories care

Justine Greening was probably right to say that the experience and skill of the board members of the new Office for Students will be key in ensuring the OfS achieves its ambitions” (Morning Star, 02/01/18). The trouble is that those “ambitions” are clearly not protecting the rights of the students and making sure they get a good deal for the huge fees they pay, and not even generally holding universities to account.

The make up of the board., with not only free-school and “Tory cheerleader” Toby Young, but representatives from big business and the banking industry, guarantees next to nothing will be done to prevent vice-chancellors` pay reaching obscene levels, or market forces determining the policies adopted by universities to attract students.

It is impossible to believe that this board will:

stop the 40% increase in universities making unconditional offers to sixth formers to guarantee their undergraduate numbers meet targets

stop universities accepting Pre-U examination results as viable entrance qualifications, despite the very dubious nature of such exams, and the more undue advantage they give the already privileged

ensure the pay of all university staff is at least at living wage level, and increased for young lecturers just beginning their careers

reduce the number of university entrants from public schools to the national level of 7%

make all colleges and universities include details of student welfare and pay policy details in their prospectuses.

With such a board in charge, it is clear that having the OfS is yet another propaganda policy to get voters to believe that Tories care. As if!

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