On Tuesday 6th September it was agreed by the universities watchdog that universities, including Sussex, can raise their fees to £9,250 from 2017/18 onwards.
This is linked to the wider marketisation of universities that is planned under the Higher Education bill that aims to allow continued tuition fee increases for current and returning students through its’ Teaching Excellence Framework, TEF. There are many parts of the Higher Education Bill but it’s overall aim is to create a competitive, marketised ‘marketplace’ of universities where tuition fees can continue to rise in line and above inflation rates. The Students’ Union does not believe tuition fees should rise or that education and knowledge should or even can be bought at a defined price.
Through TEF the government plans to rate ‘excellent teaching’ at universities by using metrics such as the National Student Survey and graduate employment data. The Students’ Union does not believe that these metrics are an accurate way to measure teaching excellence and therefore oppose TEF on these grounds. With this system, if students rate their university well in the NSS survey, with TEF this will allow for universities to raise fees for new students. This will create a system whereby if you pay more, you supposedly receive a better quality education yet we all know that this doesn’t stand up, since fees tripled to £9,000 teaching has largely remained the same, only students are funding universities through their debt rather than the government funding universities.
The NSS metrics used “will not improve teaching, but only punish already under-resourced institutions or increase fees (and student debt) in universities that achieve a high score. It will trap students and staff in a lose-lose situation; either your university does well and it gets to raise fees or it does badly, receives less funding and risks being closed.” Malia Bouattia
As students we do not benefit from being viewed as consumers. Education is a process that requires the learner to take responsibility and interest in their own journey, and be allowed the agency and space to do this. We also believe that university education should be free and accessible to everyone, not a privilege that necessitates debt. Free and publicly funded education is something that has been voted for by both Sussex students and students nationwide (see Sussex Students’ Union’s Education not for sale policy and the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Free Education Policy).
We will be launching a campaign to inform students and staff of the dangers of the HE white paper and mobilising students to defend their education against the changes the government proposals. We will provide transport for students to the NUS Free and Liberated Education march taking place on 19th November.
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