SO, we didn't meet our demands in full, BUT after pressuring the management through occupation, alongside engaging in serious discussion, we have managed to persuade Howard Dvaies to RELEASE AN OPEN LETTER setting out the schools' concerns on issues such as the Teachign Grant and the Tuition Fee Hike. WELL DONE EVERYONE!!! SEE BELOW FOR THE OPEN LETTER!
8 December 2010
The Director, Pro Director Gaskell and I, on behalf of the senior management team, and you on behalf of the occupiers, discussed this morning our respective positions about the Browne Report and education cuts. You clearly have strong views on these matters along with many students in the UK. Guided by the Academic Board, which has six student members, and our governing body the LSE Council, which has two student members, the Director and colleagues have explicitly focussed on targeted lobbying about the impact of Browne and the cuts on LSE and the social sciences specifically.
Neither the Academic Board nor the Council has , as part of this process, authorised a joint statement with others . Hence a change in the LSE policy position at this stage is not possible. However, we did agree this morning that in view of student concerns we would attempt to identify areas of convergence between the student protestors and the School, on Browne and fees, putting previous statements, the freeze the fees campaign, and blanket condemnation of the Browne Report , aside .
To that end I highlight below, key extracts from the Director’s letters which seem closely allied to student concerns . The theme of the letters has been to highlight concerns “ about the impact of the overall package of reforms, and the profile of expenditure cuts, on the LSE and its future students. ”
Implications of the withdrawal of the teaching grant from the social sciences, and the notion of public value of the social sciences
The Director has stated in and out of the School his concern that the Browne “ proposals involved removing public support from subjects which are important for our society, our economy and the country as a whole”. He also said that “ the proposed cutbacks in public funding for teaching were too big, and were instrumentalist in their focus of public support in the future on certain subjects.” In this context the concluding paragraph of the letter to Vince Cable emphasises that the “ public value of the social sciences merits some continued government support.”
The Director returned to this point in his and the Chairman’s 6 December letter to David Willetts, endorsing Nick Barr’s remarks that “ what Browne and the government got wrong is abolishing the teaching grant for arts , humanities and social sciences , which implicitly assumes there is no social benefit from higher education in those subjects.”
Also in the letter to Vince Cable, the Director and Chairman criticised the Browne Report ’s ring-fencing of STEM subjects for T grant funding to the exclusion of arts and the social sciences. In this context they say: “were the recommendations to be implemented in the way implied in the Browne Report, we would not have any state funding for ANY of our Home/EU students “
Concerns about accessibility for students
The Director has gone on record to say that “ there is no doubt that a discontinuity of funding on the scale envisaged, and a major and sudden change in the fee regime, risks putting people off university , even if they do not have to pay upfront..”
Role of social science education in society and the role of employers
In the letter to Vince Cable of 19 October, the Director and Chairman point out that if the T grant is withdrawn, “ it would lead to increased fees in programmes which have not traditionally produced graduates with high earning potential but who nevertheless make a significant contribution to public life and to society”.
When writing to David Willetts, the Director and Chairman also stated that “ we do not think that we should point the whole School towards the short term needs of employers”. They went on to stress that the Browne proposals and language used by Ministers, will have the
“ effect of pushing students more into apparently vocational courses, which may be less rewarding and challenging , and of pushing universities into thinking that the employer is always right and that their role is simply one of servicing this short term need. This seems to us to downgrade the value of higher education and its role in society. “
You may regard this letter as an open one.
Secretary of the LSE