Vice-Chancellor Sir Steve Smith and NUS President Toni Pearce will be debating the recent privatisation of the student loan book on 4 March.
The debate, which will be chaired by the University’s Debating Society, will take place in Newman Blue at 6:30pm. It forms part of an “education campaign” on the issue, co-ordinated by the Students’ Guild.
Speaking to Exeposé, the Vice Chancellor said: “I’m looking forward to a thought provoking and no-doubt challenging debate on an issue of huge importance to students. The more exposure that we can generate for this issue, the more informed the policy makers will be when they come to make the final decision.”
Alex Louch, VP Academic Affairs, who has been involved in organising the event, stated: “It’s very exciting to have the NUS President debating the future of higher education with Sir Steve Smith.”
“This key debate will inform students about the pressing issues affecting every student, which are currently being discussed behind closed doors in Westminster.”
“We want the debate out in the open and the Students’ Guild is delighted to be starting that discussion here in Exeter.”
Earlier this year, Louch condemned the government’s decision to sell approximately £900 million of pre-2010 student debt to the private sector, claiming that it had taken place “with very little consultation” and sets a “worrying precedent”.
He also spoke of the “sudden and significant changes” to student finances resulting from the Department for Business Innovations and Skills, who halved the budget for bursaries from £100 million to £50 million.
The decision to hold a debate comes after the recent student protests, which saw 20 students occupy the Senior Common Room in Queens Building for four days, and march through campus carrying boxes painted with the word “debt”.
Many of the protesters were of the Socialist Students Society, who organised a series of talks and discussions from both lecturers and students in order to promote the idea of free education throughout the protest period.
In response to the decision announced in George Osbourne’s Autumn Statement, one undergraduate student had this to say: “It’s a risky move given all the controversy around tuition fees. I don’t think this is motivated by a desire to improve standards.”
“Nonetheless, I am glad the Guild is organising this initiative. We need to be aware of the decisions that will affect our future.”bookmark me