Sir Peter Scott, Kingston’s Vice-Chancellor, last week attacked government plans to raise university tuition fees live on TV, but will still be retiring in December.
Sir Peter was the only Vice Chancellor appearing on a panel for Channel 4 News who opposed a rise in tuition fees and said he was “fundamentally against” the report’s proposals, but despite his vocal ire, he remains committed to leaving in December – while a replacement may not be in post until summer 2011.
The V-C said some courses at Kingston might be “threatened” by funding cuts and poorer students could be deterred from applying. Sir Peter said: “It’s not simply to do with what you have to pay, it’s actually the perception people have who will take the message from this that higher education is just not meant for them.”
He then accused the government of hypocrisy, commenting: “Many of the people making the decisions today, they themselves had free higher education, they’re not paying it back. Why should they load future generations with really high levels of debt?”
Other panellists on the Channel 4 debate included the V.C of the University of Leeds, Professor Michael Arthur, who welcomed the move to let universities decide their own fees. Older, more established universities, which tend to attract richer and privately educated students are less likely to see student numbers fall because of a rise in fees.
Newer universities, like Kingston, are likely to suffer more from the rise, as their students are more likely to come from under-privileged backgrounds and will be less able to afford the new price of higher education.
The Channel 4 news special came after the Government released the controversial Browne Review on university finances.