Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Email to the Vice Chancellor, Chris Brink

We have just written and sent the following email to the Vice Chancellor, Chris Brink, expressing our disappointment to his lack of reaction to our just cause and occupation. We urge you to do the same and to encourage other to send it as well to

"Dear Chris Brink,
As you are aware, the government are due to vote on the proposed increase in fees and budget cuts to Higher Education.  I strongly believe that politicians should vote against these proposals, and urge you to condemn them, and to listen to the voices of your staff and students.  This includes those who have recently been demonstrating against the cuts and fees, and those currently occupying the Fine Art building.   Contrary to your belief, these protests are overwhelmingly representative of staff and student opinion.  As Vice Chancellor, you have a responsibility to me to do what is right this University and its staff and students. Do not let us down. Do not ignore us.  Do not undervalue us.

Your Sincerely,A Concerned Citizen"

We are fighting this not just for ourselves, but for everyone.


  1. Brilliant. I just sent one with a little addendum about being a school student.

  2. Sent this:

    I understand that you believe that the students in occupation of the Fine Art building in protest at higher education cuts do not represent the student body as a whole. Of course I can't speak for the entire university, but as a student at Newcastle I can tell you that I and most people I know support the occupiers in taking action against education cuts. I'd also suggest that the high turnout for the various protest marches that have taken place over the past week, and the support for the occupiers from the sabbatical officers of the Students' Union (whose very job is to be representative of the student body) would indicate that the occupiers are generally supported throughout the University.

    I know that the Russell Group universities have been pressing for fee rises for some time now, but this is not, I believe, the result you were asking for. Since the massive cuts proposed to the teaching budget will annihilate funding, particularly for humanities and social sciences, tuition fee rises will hardly amount to any increase of income for the university. The coalition says that the fee rises will be fair for people from poor backgrounds, but they are scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance outright, which is what gets many sixth-formers into school, allowing them the education that enables them to go to university in the first place.

    The proposed changes to higher education essentially amount to a loss to the student, a loss to the taxpayer (since, if fees triple, so will government expenditure on student loans and maintenance- an outlay with a very shaky prospect of returns) and the forcing of a marketplace ideology on a system that should ultimately be about learning for learning's sake.

    I believe that Newcastle University, as a leading research university, ought to oppose the cuts, since they amount to financial and ideological nonsense, and moreover explicitly target the humanities and social sciences- Newcastle's largest faculty. I do not see why, even if you do not agree with all points of the occupiers' demands, you cannot find a common cause with them. I encourage you to meet them and attempt to reach a compromise, for education's sake.

  3. I sent this:

    Dear Professor Brink

    I am writing in relation to the upcoming vote in parliament to ask you to make a public statement, as leader of this university, against the proposed increase to the cap on fees and against the cuts to the core teaching budget.

    I was heartened to hear at a meeting yesterday with Richard Dale that it is your view that the university is not a business and students are not customers. I share your view, but am deeply concerned that should the new proposals be implemented, it will prove impossible to maintain an educational rather than customer-driven relationship with students and prospective students. British Higher Education is likely to be severely damaged for many years to come.

    I understand that many university leaders believe that it is necessary to support the increase in fees as compensation for the proposed cuts. I would urge you however to take a bold lead at this critical time, and to use your position to put the case for public funding of education and against fees. A statement of this nature from a Russell Group Vice-Chancellor could have a powerful impact on the debate at a critical moment.

    I would also urge you to meet and seriously debate the issues with our current students, including the students occupying the Fine Art building, who have in the last week demonstrated a dedication, thoughtfulness, and spirit that should make everyone associated with Newcastle University proud.

    Yours sincerely

    Diana Paton
    Reader in Caribbean History