Law: Lecturers attack Blair plan to boost student numbers

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The Independent Online
University lecturers voted last night to block the Prime Minister's plans for a huge expansion of student numbers.

Tony Blair told the Labour party conference last October that he wanted an increase of 500,000 students in higher and further education by the year 2000.

Most of the new students are expected to follow higher education courses either in universities or in further education colleges. University lecturers will have to design, validate and monitor them.

But the union's policy-making body decided it would not co-operate with the plan unless the Government made more money available for more lecturers and more pay.

David Treisman, general secretary of the 40,000-strong union, said: "We will not collude in dumbing down higher education."

Resources were stretched to the limit, he added, so the extra students would be admitted on a "false prospectus." If the new students could not expect the same high quality courses as others, then they would be short- changed.

University lecturers would be the custodians of quality for the new further education college courses. "We insist on the funding to do it properly. We insist that the morale of staff and the potential to recruit enough staff is dealt with. We need enough funding and statutory pay review ... those are the condition on which higher education will do what is asked. "Until then it will not happen. No more propping up of higher education in the further education system. This may go on for months or years. It will take as long as it takes."