NOTE: principals and senior academics are not necessarily ‘leading academics’. They are more educational managers motivated by income and the consequent increase in their salaries and bonuses. Leading academics are generally professors or the like who have done research into education.
Neil Mackay, ‘Writer at large’ may not have written the headline. Indeed, it would be odd if he had. When you read on, you get a very different picture. I’ll leave the ‘Writer at large’ moniker for you to wonder at. Casual? Temporary? Retired?
All we get for tuition fees are these anonymous quotes:
- ‘Some of Scotland’s most senior academics are questioning the ‘sustainability’ of the SNP’s flagship policy of free education for the nation’s university students.’
- A series of leading voices raised concerns about the policy which sees Scottish students attend university without paying tuition fees as their counterparts do in the rest of the UK.
- One senior academic, who is part of the executive team of one of the nation’s leading universities, described the policy as a ‘prop for the middle classes..’.
- The principal of another leading university, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “The current funding model is unsustainable if we are going to get the level of investment we need to compete…’
Leading academics, if they really are leading academics in any sense, would surely have had the guts to be named.
After these four ‘sources’, maybe, possibly reliable, we get some named individuals who do have the courage to be named:
- Peter Mathieson, principal of Edinburgh University: ‘[I]f there had been ‘tuition fees in my day then I think it less likely I would have gone to university’.
- Mathieson said he did not want the fear of debt to deter students from higher education…. “When I was a school leaver my ability to tolerate debt was very limited, the reality for a lot of school leavers now is that if they are going to go to university they need to be able to tolerate debt..”
- Jim McDonald, principal of Strathclyde University, making no plea for tuition fees at all said: “This means in order to attract and retain the best academic talent and best students from home and abroad, we need to make sure that higher education is properly funded.”
- Anton Muscatelli, principal of Glasgow University, said he supports the current policy by the Scottish government. Muscatelli said tuition fees are a ‘societal choice. “What we see is that in developed countries, some chose to keep education free – like Scotland, Germany and Scandinavia.
- Mary Senior, the University and College’s Union Scottish official, said Scotland should not go down the same route as England when it came to tuition fees, and added that the effective cap on Scottish students was a “pressure that needed to be addressed”.
So that’s four named ‘prominent’ academics, at the very least, not questioning the policy of free tuition and some alleged sources who clearly feel so strongly about charging tuition fees that they won’t be quoted.
At least my former Principal, Craig Mahoney, did come out on this. I emailed him and the whole of UWS to remind him that he should not rush to judgement only weeks after his arrival from Tasmania via Northumbria when, in Scotland, we’d had universal, free education from bairns to graduates, for about 500 years. I quoted John Knox on this for the first time in the history of email at UWS!
Another failed journalism assignment by Herald staff?