Bristol SU send out open letter against fee rises

Enough is enough


Notable members of the staff and student body at Bristol University have put their names on an open letter to Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady in opposition to TEF.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (more commonly known as TEF) is a part of the new Higher Education Bill that will allow universities to charge higher fees based on how highly they score according to the standards of TEF. Basically it means the better the university, the more it will cost.

This marketisation of education is part of the reason why an open letter to the Vice Chancellor has been written. The list of signatories is essentially a list of the elected SU officers, such as Zoe Backhouse the Undergraduate Education officer and Hannah Dualeh, the Equality, Liberation and Access officer as well as various other members of staff as the union.

It must also be noted that the founder and president of the 93% club Sophie Pender also featured on the list, as these changes are likely to affect poorer students the most.

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As a student who has benefited from the last vestiges of the maintenance grant and capped fees, as well as the Bristol Bursary I must agree with the sentiments of this letter. It greatly saddens me that education and students by extension are treated like an inexhaustible cash cow, and it is grossly unfair that I will be leaving university with less debt than my younger siblings should they go to university by virtue of being a few years older.

Despite the fact that Universities provide some financial aid, a pretty small proportion of students are able to access it or qualify for it.

It is a given that most UK students will take on tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt in order to attend university.

A lucky few will have their parents fund their studies, but for the vast majority of university students and more importantly future students this is not the case, and TEF will have a direct impact on the amount of debt they accumulate.

The elected SU officers, all signatories of the petition

The elected SU officers, all signatories of the petition

Granted we do not have the student loan company hunting us down as soon as we graduate like our American peers, but we still start our adult lives with a loan that most of us will never pay off.

Very few people will deny that university is being made more and more expensive as the various grants designed to assist disadvantaged students are replaced with loans or scrapped altogether and fees are increased. The most galling part however is that the people making these laws did not have their access to education limited by a reticence to take on debt and socio-economic status. Quite the contrary in fact.

Most of the people who support this law did not have to pay for university. The hypocrisy is not only infuriating but makes it very clear that our best interests are not even being considered by those within government.

Therefore, the belligerent statement ‘TEF off’ seems pretty appropriate. They do not seem to care about our future, so quite frankly they can do one.

You can find the petition here.