I have taught in universities in several countries, including Sweden and Germany, and have spent more than 20 years on the staff of two British universities. Nowhere have I found organisations that provide such a range of services as the student union in Britain. Overseas students and visitors commonly remark upon this. If 'voluntary membership' is introduced, the Secretary of State will be undermining an essential element in our university system, one that contributes vitally to the welfare and the sense of community our students enjoy.
I understand that Mr Patten was once a university teacher. He should know better. I trust he will think again.
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