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It’s a familiar story – modules are being dropped at the last minute, funding is being cut from departments, and we’re being asked to pay an extra £6,000 per year in tuition fees in exchange for no discernable improvement in teaching. Yet, with the announcement that the university has acquired a government think-tank for an undisclosed fee, can it really be said that the university has our interests at heart? Are they really spending our money wisely?
Last year, I was one of the first-year student representatives for the Department of European Languages and Cultures. We were asked to give our own opinions on a document that had been laid out in an attempt to give a reasonable variety of modules, in spite of the staff shortage in the department. This I could understand, that the university was at least trying to make sure there was a variety of modules on offer, even if they weren’t entirely focused on each student’s language or subject of choice. Even though cuts were being made they were trying to make the cuts fair. However, in response to the buying of the Work Foundation, I feel betrayed – the money that went towards this could have gone towards giving a greater standard and variety of education for students.
The argument has been made that there is a relation between the Management school and the Work Foundation. However, is it really logical to take money that could be spent on education, or organisations in the local area where alumni could find employment, and instead spend it on an institution that we are unlikely to see the benefits of ourselves? Is this “relation” ever really going to transfer to concrete benefits for our students at Lancaster, or is our money going towards something that is merely a commercial venture for the university which is becoming increasingly profit orientated?
The Vice Chancellor has made his position clear, that fees need to be raised in order for students to receive a reasonable service and level of education. However, I find it hypocritical that the university champions fees as a means of maintaining academic standards, yet has money to spare from that which we currently pay to spend on failing Think tanks instead of supporting their students’ education, which should be their primary concern. How can they claim that we need to pay more for our degrees, when the money we are spending right now isn’t even supporting our own education?
I will never quite understand the motives behind the acquisition of the Work Foundation, and the University is unwilling to disclose how much it has paid for it and any of the exact details of the purchase. All I can really understand is that our education and learning is taking second place to the university’s business mentality, and we will be the one who suffer as a consequence.