Durham University. An institution renowned for its inclusivity. I am sure you are aware of the reputation we pride ourselves on. And just look around you. You’ll see students from all walks of life – households earning £100,000, households earning £90,000, sometimes households earning even £80,000! Yes, we here at Durham pride ourselves on our incredible access record. With over 40% of our population coming from just private school, and fifth in the country for such, we think we are exceeding the conditions to improve access put to us when we raised our tuition fees to £9000 in 2010.
And things are about to get a whole lot better!
The University has just held a full consultation(!) with its student body, and after much deliberation, have decided to raise accommodation fees to just £7000. How generous are we? This should be fine for students on the low-incomes of £80,000!
And just look at our decimation of the Durham Grant! It used to be £3000, with £2000 for the next tier income; now that latter tier is completely gone, and we’ve decreased the £30000 grant by a £1000! This shouldn’t have any mitigating problems in the future, especially not with the government completely abolishing the maintenance grant that was the bloodline of the poorest students in Britain. And fear not! We were going to decrease it even more! But, at the last minute, our generosity kicked in. Your £2000 is safe, Oliver Twist!
We’ve also made it clear that we would happily exploit the uncapping of fees in the last Budget, meaning we can raise even more in tuition fees. And this time, there’s not even any conditions on improving access to do so.
And what will all this extra revenue go to? Sorry, what was that, grants? No, silly. It will go to that immaculate art exhibition in the Palatine Centre. Shiny, huh? Our students love it!
With all these great reforms, we sure look forward to more participation from the poorest in society! So come along to Durham. The 125th most inclusive University in the country!
Unfortunately, almost an entire page could be made into a parody, trying to laugh off this University’s woeful record with disadvantaged students, and its continued support for policies that will only further shame it – and it believes it will never have to be held accountable. Not anymore. The great people behind this prospectus, and the various groups working with them, are demanding change. If you read this and feel yourself seething with the same anger we do, question it, and question them. Question if this is the inclusive learning environment it is painted to be. Question what they are selling you.
Durham University Labour Club are working alongside others to do just that, and we are demanding change with a plan for action.
We are demanding, among other things:
• A target for a 70:30 ratio of state/private school students
• Demanding transparency over accommodation fees
• The full restoration of the Durham Grant
• Rejecting future tuition fee increases
• Regular consultations with low-income students
None of these things should be hard. This University continues to wield plenty of cash, certainly enough to pay the Vice Chancellor the third highest wage in the country.
The situation in Durham is no joke. We have to demand they take this seriously.