No more business as usual with new VC, say student leaders

Relations between students and Chris Higgins,
the former vice-chancellor, (pictured)
were “deteriorating”

A coalition of student society leaders is urging Durham University to use the search for a new vice-chancellor as an opportunity for reforms to the way the institution is run.

Durham Students for Reform has issued a document – seen by student media today – listing ten policy proposals which aim to improve the experiences of “students, staff, workers and residents”.

These include a target of a two-thirds state school intake of undergraduates, the freezing of fees for international and postgraduate students, more engagement with local residents and the rolling out of the Living Wage.

The group also proposes that the vice-chancellor be directly elected by students and staff from a shortlist consisting of 50% women.

Eleven other student groups support the scheme, including Durham University Labour Club, Durham Young Greens, the International Students Association, Durham University Feminism Society and Durham University Students Against Austerity.

The document reads: “Restructuring plans threatened to take power away from students, greater work burdens have been imposed on staff, unjust wage policies disadvantage local workers and increased student intake and construction projects have enraged residents.

“Though we all suffer the rising costs of living and education, the outgoing vice-chancellor has made unpopular decisions without meaningful dialogue with students, staff, workers or residents.

Campaigning for “democratic and
ethical reform”

“As such, it is crucial that the search for a new vice-chancellor is more than the search for a new personality to continue business as usual.”

The other signatories to the document are: Durham Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, University College Feminists, It Happens Here Campaign, Durham University Amnesty International, Durham University Living Wage Campaign, Durham University Friends of Palestine and Durham University People and Planet Society.

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