22 January 2003
University of Sussex responds to Government White Paper on higher education
The Government's important and detailed proposals for the reform of higher education have only just been published, so the University of Sussex needs to take time properly to consider and respond to them. However, the Vice-Chancellor has been playing a leading role in the national debate, and has been personally involved with vice-chancellors of other leading universities in direct discussions with Government.
Responding to the Government's proposals on fees, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alasdair Smith said today:
"I broadly welcome the changes announced by the Government this week. A healthy and properly funded higher education system is vital for the future of this country. I do not believe that taxpayers can reasonably be expected to meet all the funding needs of higher education, so it is reasonable to seek a contribution from those who personally benefit.
It is most welcome that the Government has recognised that contributions are best made after graduation and I applaud the abolition of the up-front tuition fee. I also think that the reintroduction of maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds is an essential part of the overall package. These policy changes will make higher education more accessible to students from less-advantaged backgrounds."
Sussex has been developing a range of initiatives to ensure that students from poorer backgrounds or from families without a tradition of higher education can enter university. For instance, this year, more than 1,000 students have taken part in events that let them see what studying at university is really like. The University is confident that this work with young teenagers now will have a significant impact.
The University has a well-regarded careers and employment centre, which helps students find part-time jobs on and off campus to help them financially without interfering with their studies.
Potential students and their parents are being reassured that the new fee arrangements will not apply in October 2003 or 2004, and that students who start under the current arrangements should not face changes part way through their course.
The University will need to look at the proposals in detail and consider what level of fee it will set within the modest range allowed by Government. However, the Vice-Chancellor has said that he expects the University to set a fee above the minimum allowed, at a level that provides the additional funding necessary for the University but that does not deter students from coming to Sussex.
Notes for editors
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