University delays bursary cut decision

Philip Brook - Editor 17 February 2011

Bursaries were given a reprieve this week after the University Council delayed a decision to reduce them by half.

Following heavy lobbying by Cambridge University Student’s Union to increase the money allocated to bursaries, the University Council voted to delay making a final decision and to consult fellows on the move.

The move comes just a week after The Cambridge Student reported on the University’s plans to cut bursaries by 52 per cent to just £1625. It has provoked national concern, closely following on the heels of the University’s decision to charge the maximum £9000 fees. According to one second year Girtonian currently receiving a bursary, “It seems perverse that at the moment fees rise to £9000, the bursaries upon which many students rely are not merely staying the same, but being halved.

It is disgraceful behaviour and I am relieved that the decision has been at least delayed.”

The cut in Bursaries was necessary, according to the original funding report by a University Working group, due to a limit of £10 million on the total spending on bursaries. The figure has been condemned as “arbitrary” and student representatives are hopeful that this figure will be increased over the coming weeks following the referral of this vote to Regents House, the democratic body of the University, mainly consisting of Fellows.

CUSU President Rahul Mansigani said: “We are delighted that the University has backed away from its proposal to slash the money given to students. Cambridge’s maintenance bursaries are hugely important to thousands of Cambridge students who depend on them, as well as to potential applicants.

Cambridge students are outraged and disappointed that this government has forced us, through savage cuts, into a position where their maximum fees are unavoidable. This government has no right to portray itself as a champion of Access whilst forcing universities to raise fees: its preference for fee waivers over bursaries is a transparent attempt to shift the burden of their ill-conceived policies even further onto individual students.

We expect the University to reaffirm its commitment to providing the most generous bursaries in the country: this is both realistic and necessary.”

However much still remains to be done in the battle to save Cambridge Bursaries.

There remain concerns that the changes are being pushed through without proper consultation due to Government pressure to agree the changes by the end of March.

The proposals are subject to an ‘accelerated process’ of discussion, significantly reducing the opportunity for consultation of the issue.

Philip Brook – Editor