Ministers back down on campus reforms: Climbdown on funding follows opposition from Tory peers. Fran Abrams reports
Friday 25 February 1994
The climbdown over the Education Bill, details of which were leaked to the Independent last week, was made in the face of opposition from Conservatives in the House of Lords. However, the Government still faces defeat over separate plans to reform teacher training when the Bill reaches its Committee Stage next month.
The reforms would have starved the National Union of Students - which ministers described as the last closed shop in Britain - of cash, but would also have deprived student newspapers, entertainments and clubs of funds.
Under an amendment to the Bill, tabled last night, universities will now be responsible for ensuring that student unions operate in a fair and democratic manner. Individual students will have the right to opt out of union membership, but if they do so they will lose the right to vote in campus elections. They will still be able to use union bars and facilities, but will not be able to recover union fees, which are paid by the university in a block grant.
Unions will have to hold secret ballots in order to affiliate to outside bodies such as NUS, and decisions will have to be reviewed annually. However, with each union affiliating to about 70 sporting bodies, this is unlikely to be enforced.
Student unions will have to have a written constitution, approved by the university's governing body and reviewed every five years.
Announcing the retreat last night, Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, said the Government had taken into account the issues raised during the Second Reading, before Christmas, when 31 peers spoke against it and only two for. 'The Government's intention is to secure democracy, accountability and choice in a way that does not inhibit the important extra-curricular activities of students,' she said.
Lorna Fitzsimons, president of NUS, said: 'We welcome this wave of common sense. Their revised legislation incorporates our own original ideas for clarifying the rights and responsibilities of student unions and NUS.'
However, there were warnings that proposals in the Bill to set up a teacher training agency to transfer more responsibility for training to schools, could prove equally controversial. Some Tory peers are now expected to join the Opposition to fight what remains of the Bill.
Blackpool and The Fylde College, which employs 330 full-time and 542 part-time lecturers, yesterday won a High Court injunction to prevent the lecturers' union calling a one-day strike. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education plans a national action next Tuesday over the introduction of flexible contracts of employment. Mr Justice Morison held that the strike would be unlawful because the union had not 'described' the employees who were to be balloted on action or those who would be called out on strike so that the employer could readily ascertain who they were.
The union claimed it could not be required to name its members. It was granted a stay on the injunction until today - provided that it could begin an appeal by today.
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Syria's 'circle of hell': Aleppo residents describe children without heads, streets filled with blood and injuries never before witnessed by surgeons
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: Clegg warns of second election before Christmas without Lib Dems
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...