Letter: Higher education on the cheap

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Sir: In his article advocating top-up fees for students, (12 December) David Walker stated that "the expansion of higher education in recent years has been paid for by the Government on the basis of reducing the amount of public money per student".

It would be more accurate to say that this expansion has been paid for by the students (who have to incur debts for the privilege of enjoying a declining quality of education) and, principally, by the staff, who have increased their workloads while experiencing a pay freeze of unprecedented length and severity.

The value of the top point of the lecturer's scale has in fact declined by 0.5 per cent in real terms over the last decade.

Mr Walker may sneer at our "agitation", but what makes him think that top-up fees would not be "clawed back" by government, leaving students worse off and staff and universities as impoverished as before? The solution is not top-up fees, but a combination of a learning bank for students and a pay review body for staff.

P K BURG

President, Association of University Teachers

London W11

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