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Labour to unveil plans for overhaul of universities

A RADICAL overhaul of higher education will be unveiled by Labour today, including ending the scandal of huge salaries and benefits paid to university vice-chancellors.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has vowed a Labour government would introduce a maximum ratio of 20 to one between the highest paid and lowest paid university employees.

Vice-chancellors will also be banned from sitting on the remuneration committees which set their salaries and benefits, she promised.

Speaking at the University College Union (UCU) conference in Manchester on the defence of public education, Ms Rayner is to say: “The Tories have unleashed a failed free market experiment in higher education.

"They have created a system that goes to the very heart of their ideology – a system where market logic is imposed on public goods and where the forces of competition run rampant at the expense of students, staff and communities.

“The Tories’ obsession with free market dogma has gone too far. Education is a public good and should be treated as such. Our universities are there for all of us.”

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP also targeted higher education regulator the Office for Students (OfS) for biting criticism.

She said the regulator’s role “reflects all that is wrong with the Conservatives’ free market dogma in higher education.”

Labour would end the duty placed on universities by the OfS to promote competition and replace it with a duty to promote collaboration between universities, schools, colleges and educational institutions.

The party would also commit the OfS to report on diversity in university staff and student bodies as well as have staff represented on the OfS board.

Welcoming the announcement, UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: “We need to move from the privatisation of education towards an open and accountable system that recognises the importance of properly supporting staff, rather than undermining them with ideologically driven schemes.

“It is particularly encouraging that the Labour Party recognises the need for real reform of university governance.”

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