Tories Target Top-Up Fees

first_imgThe University has controversially adopted policy in support of top-up fees in the same week that the Conservative party pledged to eliminate all university fees. The Student Union (OUSU), which maintains an anti-fees stance, has condemned the University’s decision but is sceptical that Tory measures will relieve the funding crisis.Omar Salem, a co-chair of OUSU’s finance and funding committee said, “The Tories’ proposals at least show that the abolition of fees is politically possible.” His comments came after hearing that dons had decided not to oppose top-up fees. Only 540 out of an electorate of 3,250 took part in a postal vote called in the hope that the University would change its pro-fees stance adopted in March. Will Straw, President of OUSU, said, “Given that all tutors were contacted, it’s a great shame that less than 20% got round to voting. It is disappointing that members of congregation aren’t listening to students or acknowledging serious implications for access or student hardship.” The university staff voted 380 to 237 in favour of an amendment changing the motion to taking an anti-top up fees policy. Professor Paul Langford, the rector of Lincoln College, who proposed the amendment, said that it was essential for Oxford to retain its flexibility on such issues, in order to “remain among the few internationally competitive universities in the UK”. Dr Mike Woodin, tutor at Balliol and City Councillor requested the postal ballot after the original vote by Congregation, which took place in March provoked protest from staff and students because of an extremely low turn-out. He responded to the result of the postal ballot by saying, “Oxford University has acquiesced to a government policy that will deter students from poorer backgrounds from entering higher education, particularly when the government’s plans for top-up fees are opposed by the overwhelming majority of people, including Cambridge University.” Will Straw joined Woodin’s concerns and applauded the stance the Conservatives were taking against tuition fees. However, he voiced concerns that their measures would have serious implications for access, “abolition of the government’s target of enrolling fifty percent of all 18-20 year olds in higher education by 2010 would be a serious setback to OUSU’s policy of widening access and participation.” John Townsend, the president of the Conservative Association, is confident of the Tory proposals, though, “I’ve been opposed to tuition fees from the start, and the new policy is a radical and refreshing issue. OUCA is delighted with the new policy initiative.”ARCHIVE: 3rd Week TT 2003last_img read more