Labour MPs, members of the Opposition, and opponents of topup fees all come in for withering criticism in an ex-Pembroke Master’s recently published treatise on higher education, ‘University to Uni’.Estelle Morris, Former Education Secretary, is seen as “a sweet but ineffective former comprehensive school teacher, with little understanding of, or interest in, universities”. Author Robert Stevens also
suggests that Gordon Brown lacks sufficient charisma to replace Tony Blair, while he calls Margaret Hodge “a former member of the loony left”. Speaking to Cherwell, Stevens stood by his comments, adding that Hodge “used to fly the red flag over Islington town hall”.Nor do the Tories escape the onslaught. Stevens argues that Michael Howard’s opposition to topup fees is a cynical ploy to gain votes, “bribing the affluent members of society and the middle-classes” and is inconsistent with Conservative policies. He also accuses the Tories of crippling universities by having failed to provide sufficient funds.Stevens argues that defeat for Blair over top-up fees would be disastrous for Oxford in particular, “If you want serious universities, you have to put in the money,” he told Cherwell. Without funds from students themselves, he warns, Oxford risks “dumbing down”, losing its best academics to the United States, cutting courses, and being forced to recruit foreign students in place of Britons. He argued that if student opponents of top-up fees get its way, Oxford “will become an even bigger joke than German and French universities”.
Archive: 0th week HT 2004