Cambridge dons to take a stand against Willetts

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The Independent Online

Academics at Cambridge University are planning to follow in the footsteps of their Oxford counterparts and declare no confidence in the Universities Minister David Willetts' handling of higher education.

Nearly 150 Cambridge dons have signed a "grace" declaring no confidence in his policies in a move understood to be the first time the UK's two premier universities have acted in unison against the Government.

Jeremy Prynne, a senior Cambridge academic and poet, said it was a "critical moment to raise a voice" against the Coalition Government's "destruction of higher education in this country".

The dons are alarmed over the potential impact of introducing fees of up to £9,000 a year – particularly on the participation of "debt-averse" students from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are also worried about the impact of Mr Willetts' support for the setting up of more for-profit universities in the UK – citing the precedents in the US where similar universities have seen a much higher drop-out rate amongst students.