Prof Patrick McGhee

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

University of East London Chief Says UK Higher Education ‘Hit by Double Whammy’

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The full text of my press release on the current state of higher education in the UK.

 

For immediate release – Friday, 25 November 2011

University of East London Chief Says UK Higher Education ‘Hit by Double Whammy’

 

Professor Patrick McGhee, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East London, has called for the government to rethink its higher education policy claiming that the sector’s success is being jeopardised by the ‘double-whammy’ of tuition fees policy deterring home students and the new immigration policy deterring overseas applicants.

 

“The UK higher education sector is one of the best in the world for research, teaching, knowledge transfer and widening access” he said; but all these areas are threatened by the new fees regime and the way it has been introduced alongside Home Office restrictions on overseas applicants.

 

“The privatisation and consumerisation of higher education is to be resisted” he said. “Higher education is a public good and should be funded and supported as such. The government’s proposals threaten the intellectual autonomy of universities and their capacity to be a force for social change, economic justice and personal fulfilment.

 

“Early applications data show not only that there is a real risk of a general downturn, but there is clear evidence of mature students, female students and students from regions of the UK most badly affected by recession and cuts being deterred more than most.”

 

Speaking at the University’s recent graduation ceremony, Professor Patrick McGhee said: “The UK higher education reforms as currently stated will undermine universities’ ability to contribute to economic recovery and justice. We cannot afford as a nation to take that risk.

 

“Investment in higher education should not be contingent on rate of recovery from recession, nor contingent on rate of reduction of public debt, but contingent on our commitment to the learning and life changes of future generations. I wonder if we are really serious about so-called student choice when so many are deterred by debt.

 

“With 100% of teaching funding removed from the majority of courses, universities had little choice but to raise tuition fees. Some have welcomed being forced to do this; I have done it very reluctantly.  My university will maximise the amount of financial support for incoming students. We will not reduce headline fees with waivers but provide value through greater scholarships and bursaries. If I have to choose between helping the Treasury and helping my students, I will choose my students every time.”

He went on to say: “The UK’s reputation overseas has been severely damaged by signals that overseas students are not welcome. Even those who are welcome he said feel unwelcome due to the bureaucratic and restrictive nature of entry criteria and policy statements.

 

“What other nation would work so hard to turn away the future leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, professionals and politicians of the world? What other nation would work so hard to deny their home students the chance to learn, share explore and network with peers from around the globe?”

 

He called on the Home Office to declassify university from the migration statistics, as the vast majority do not and cannot stay and work after graduation even though they stay for more than a year, which counts as migration under current government policy. ”Our international educational strategy should be driven by what is right for our students, researchers and institutions.

 

“There is a longer term challenge here to develop and support UK higher education for the 21st century and that work is overdue. We must start that work urgently, but the government’s proposals are emphatically not the start that we should be embracing.

 

“In line with mission groups, an increasing number of Vice-Chancellors across the sector and  a wide range of student and staff groups, I call on the government to pause and rethink the introduction of the HE Bill, the restrictions on UK student numbers and its policy on international student migration.

 

Note to Editors

Professor McGhee was one of 15 Vice-Chancellors to sign an open letter opposing the introduction of tuition fees to £9k in December 2010. 

 

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.