Fighting Browne and Fighting Cuts


This post from NUS Women’s Officer Olivia Bailey was first published yesterday on NUS Connect and is published here with permission.

Many of you will have seen that this morning Lord Browne has published his review in to the funding of higher education. The report suggests that the current cap on fees of £3,290 should be abolished, and aims to create a market in higher education.

Browne’s recommendations will completely devastate our higher education system. They will make university a privilege for the few who can afford it, and will price out the majority. The lifting of the cap will mean that universities like Oxford and Cambridge will be able to charge whatever they like, and the universities with less good reputations and results, less. This will create a two tier system, with students’ attendance at elite institutions based on the size of their bank balance, not on their academic potential.

We must resist and fight the coalition government as they consider what parts of Browne they will implement over the next few weeks. We must also be prepared to fight the massive cuts to HE that we are expecting in the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is just around the corner. Please read the key actions for you to take in this article.

What the Browne report says and how it will affect women

A top line summary of all of the recommendations from the report can be read on the NUS Connect website here –

The latest information from NUS on the Browne Review is our initial response to the review. To view the article on this, please click here. And to dowload the Initial response in full, please click here [pdf]

The full report can be read here –

There can be no doubt that, if implemented, Browne’s recommendations would have a disproportionate impact on women. Here are two of the ways it would do that:

  • Browne’s proposals will massively increase student debt. The gender pay gap of 15% that hits women immediately on graduating means that it will take women much longer to pay back their fees. The loans will also accrue interest, which means women will also have to pay more
  • Browne recommends that public investment is focussed on supporting certain ‘strategically important’ courses such as Science, Maths and IT. Women are less likely to study these courses and will therefore be hit hardest by the course closures and reduction in quality that will follow in the Comprehensive Spending Review

Fighting Browne and Fighting the Cuts

Mobilise for the National Demo – 10.11.10

Estelle Hart, the women’s campaign representative on the NEC and NUS Wales Women’s Officer, is chairing the women’s campaign’s mobilisation committee for the national demo. She has written a fantastic briefing to help you mobilise women students in your union against cuts, and to take to the streets of London on 10.11.10. To download this briefing, please click here.

We also have a facebook page. Please become a fan of this page by clicking here

Watch this space for more news from Estelle and Olivia Bailey on women and the national demo.

Lobby your MP to reject Browne

Over the next few days please undertake one of these simple actions:

  • Email your MP to ask them to reject Lord Browne’s call for higher fees
  • If you are represented by a Liberal Democrat MP, call their parliamentary office and ask them to honour the Vote for Students pledge they signed and vote AGAINST a rise in fees not abstain. The parliamentary switchboard is 0207-219-3000

There will a full briefing being published by NUS later today on other innovative ways to lobby lib dem MPs – so keep your eye on the NUS Connect website.

Together, we can stop these terrifying recommendations being implemented, and we can stop eye watering cuts to our education – but we need to fight.

In sisterhood,

Olivia Bailey

NUS National Women’s Officer

The following text is taken from the We Are Women: We Will March Facebook Info page.

On 10.11.10 the NUS Women’s campaign will be leading hundreds of women in protest against cuts to education.

We are women We will march because:

  • The courses women study are more likely to be cut
  • Women graduates earn on average 15% less than their male counterparts and this has an effect on how quickly they are able to pay off their student loan
  • According to the House of Commons’ research, it takes a woman, on average, 19.5 years to pay a £26,000 loan. It takes a man with the same income 15 years. We are expecting government proposals to double student debt, and to double the gap between men and women paying off their loan
  • The majority of benefits that are being cut or frozen are paid mainly to women (for example child benefit and the health in pregnancy grant)
  • One of the first cuts to be made in institutions looking to save money is nursery provision, as the vast majority of student parents are women this has a disproportionate effect. We have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of nurseries over the last year (See our Save Our Nurseries campaign – and this is set to get much worse
  • NUS’ Hidden Marks report on women students’ experiences of violence showed that services in institutions for women who have suffered violence are already lacking. Cuts to student support will see even fewer women able to access the help and support they need. See the Hidden Marks report here –

The NUS Womens’ Campaign is asking you to spread the message that women students will feel the impact of cuts sooner and more sharply

We are asking you to help us mobilise women for the National Demo on 10.11.10 and send a strong message that the cuts to further and higher education won’t be tolerated

If you want help from NUS to mobilise women students then please contact [email protected] or [email protected].