ACADEMICS from the University of York are among hundreds who have signed a document warning of the consequences should the Government’s reforms on higher education become law, writes Mike Renton.

The Alternative White Paper, which is being supported by Professor Peter Biller and Dr Mary Madden, criticises the Government for having no separate vision of higher education and its benefits to students and wider society.

Dr Madden, of the Department of Health Sciences, states that the Government’s paper, Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System, looks to reverse the direction for the future of higher education set out by the Dearing Report in 1997, with no mandate.

Dr Madden, who received a publicly-funded education, said: “I joined the Campaign For The Public University because I agree that it is time to defend public higher education with the same vigour that is evident in the defence of the NHS.”

She believes that universities are a fundamental public resource that is being threatened by a drive towards privatisation, which will pass the costs on to individuals.

She goes on to say that it could mean a drastic reduction of programmes in arts, humanities and social sciences, with serious consequences for the cultural and political life of the country.

“The collateral damage is potentially enormous,” she said. The new document focuses on the benefits to society of public higher education rather than fees or caps