Yes, I think it could be construed as such.
While 50,000 students protest the proposed fees increase, this exchange in Parliament:
The BBC reports 79% cut in University teaching funding (Will this mark the death of UK Universities? - Grumpy Bob’s Posterous).
The Open University is hosting a web page devoted to the upcoming Darwin 200 anniversary. Usefully, it’s also the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species (free e-book, web book), possibly the most influential work in science ever (your starter for ’10′!).
Of course, I can be accused of a little bias since the site is the work of my colleagues at the OU, but it’s a more graphically pleasing route to finding courses such as Darwin and Evolution than the standard OU website! The course is one of a number of Science Short Courses that expect no prior qualification, but which reflect topical issues in science – the courses are very popular, and offer a relatively low commitment introduction to distance learning via the Open University.
Withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQs) – In yet another bizarre and capricious decision, the Government have instructed HEFCE to remove financial support for students studying for a degree of Equivalent or Lower Qualification than one already possessed.This is a smack in the face for those students who wish to retrain, for those who wish to learn for the sake of learning, and is discriminatory – students in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland are at present unaffected. Here is John Denham’s letter directing HEFCE. I work at the Open University. Of the £100 million to be clawed back by HEFCE (such an clean, arbitrary number), somewhere between £30-40 million is likely to be wiped from our income sheet.
Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brenda Gourlay has reported on the impact of the ELQ policy. John Denham will be at the Open University on 13th December, and will speak to students and staff at 15:00 (Berrill Lecture Theatre, Walton Hall campus, Milton Keynes). It will be interesting…watch this space.
Well, John Denham’s presentation was not at all informative (the text can be read here), and he didn’t respond well to questioning. In particular, when asked whether he or his civil servants had modelled the potential effects of this decision, he claimed this wasn’t his responsibility. Well, I beg to differ.
Today there is an item on the BBC News website about the ELQ issue, with the news that the Conservatives are taking a stance. I suppose this may just harden the government’s position on the issue. The Open University Vice Chancellor, Brenda Gourlay, appeared on Radio 4′s Today programme this morning to talk about the ELQ issue.