Monday, February 01, 2010

Lammy's Double Whammy On Uni Cuts

Deep university cuts slashing student numbers have been slammed as "scaremongering" by ministers. But education minister Lammy delivered a double whammy, as New Labour tried to dig itself out of its spending cuts hole.

The full extent of £449m university cuts revealed today, with warnings thousands could miss out on university places, will come as no surprise to Sunday Times readers - nor to the business secretary and Lammy's boss, the Lord Mandy.

Who slashed teaching budgets by millions of pounds as an early christmas present for universities, leaving students worried sick if they'd be able to make the grade?

Step forward the man with more titles than daft Dick, flaunting his tough 'university spending cuts' during last week's Channel 4 News big beast interview with Cuddly Ken.

Only last summer, the Orange Party seems to recall The Sunday Times reporting that Whitehall was sharpening the knife, drawing up plans for 20% cuts in public spending, with deep university budget cuts in the firing line.

Mandy made a big deal about slashing teaching budgets by millions of pounds just before Christmas, all in the name of Progress, with a sudden promise to slash public spending on higher education by £950 million over the next three years.

Universities, said Mandy, will be fined £3,700 for every student they took on this autumn above the government limit. A warning which didn't go down at all well with university leaders then and went down like a lead balloon when reality kicked in today.

Leaders of the top universities said last month the cuts could cause a "meltdown". Furious academics condemned the timing of the announcement, warning departments would have to close, degree courses scrapped and students will have to pay higher fees, damaging the 'gold standard' of research universities "beyond repair".

Now president of vice-chancellors' group, professor Steve Smith, has warned that more than 200,000 applicants could be left without a place this summer.

But higher education minister, Lammy, is sticking to his guns, declaring the savings were "relatively small" and accusing everyone in higher education of “scaremongering".

Scaremongering? They're doing voters a favour cutting through the election spin. If £449m is small, goodness knows what big is?

Lammy should go back to school, with a top up in basic maths. Less money means fewer students unless they're all crammed into one lecture hall.

A million 18-24 year olds are on the dole. Of course there will be a big increase in applications. There's nothing else for them to do.

All a far cry from the far off days of false hope when New Labour promised to get half of young people into university, now filed away under 'empty words'.

All part of the false borrowing boom years when the good times rolled. But not a good idea when the country is going down the economic pan. Happy days.

Spending cuts from one of Mandy's many departments is all a bit rich on the day of the Mandy v Cameron cuts cat fight as New Labour unleashed the old attack dog over Tory spending plans.

But Pussycat Peter is having fun dissing Dave, even likening Cameron and Osborne to a "Laurel and Hardy duo". Now where has the Orange Party seen that before?

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