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No to Open University fee rises

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We, the undersigned, note:

  • The publicly stated commitment of the OU to “promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.”(1)
  • The importance of HEFCE2 funding for achieving this commitment (2)
  • The cuts to this funding introduced by the current coalition government (3) 
  • The recent announcement from the OU of an increase in tuition fees to £5,000 (4) 
  • Existing research that shows that debt deters students from poorer backgrounds from applying to university (5) 
  • The potential for the OU’s new transitional arrangements (6) to discriminate against students who need to take breaks from studying because of disabilities, caring responsibilities or financial need

We hold:

  • A long-term commitment to abolish tuition fees
  • A short-term commitment to prevent the recently announced fee increases

We call on the OU Management to:

  • Lobby the Government against cuts to HEFCE funding, and against fee increases, in their response to the consultation on the recent Government White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ (7)
  • Publicly state the incompatibility of the proposals set out in the White Paper with the OU's mission to provide education to all
  • Work with Vice Chancellors from other Higher Education institutions to lobby against the shifting of the financial burden for education from society to the individual
  • Keep fees at the 2010 level in real terms

1 http://www8.open.ac.uk/about/main/the-ou-explained/the-ous-mission

2 Higher Education Funding Council for England: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/ 

3 http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=413956 

4 http://www8.open.ac.uk/study/explained/fees-2012

5 Callender, Claire and Jackson, Jonathan (2005) Does the fear of debt deter students from higher education? Journal of social policy, 34 (4). pp. 509-540

6 http://www8.open.ac.uk/study/explained/fees-2012/currently-studying 

7 http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/hereform/white-paper/

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