Here is our reply sent earlier today:
Dear Rebecca Davies and senior management co-conspirators of Aberystwyth University,
We are disappointed – although hardly surprised – that management is persisting in evading our very specific concerns.
We asked that the university be more transparent about its strategies for the future. We were not asking for repetitions of tired platitudes about maintaining and improving standards. The Strategic Plan 2009 – 2013 includes a target for university governance to be a “responsive” and “accountable” organisation. For these principles to be fully realised there needs to be far wider accessibility to staff and students of important publications concerning the university's future. If the Strategic Plan does indeed contain the “full details of the work currently in progress” in planning for the coming years then perhaps we ought to be more concerned about the university's total lack of detailed operational planning for the difficult years ahead.
Vice Chancellors are political subjects and as such ought to participate in the collective process of debate and policy-making. Noel Lloyd's public statements criticising the government's proposal to reduce the number of international students coming to the UK is laudable, yet unsurprising as it is directly related to income generation. We expect him to condemn the broad and severe attacks on Higher Education, the dramatic rise in tuition fees, and irresponsible cuts to education funding. In this respect, we were particularly concerned by Noel Lloyd's statement to the Welsh Assembly criticising the lower basic fee in Wales as socially unjust. Numerous studies have shown that the increase in tuition fees will result in a dramatic fall in the number of students from poor families going to university. The decision by the Welsh Assembly to set the basic tuition fee level at £4,000 rather than £6,000 shows some attempt to reduce the impact on social mobility.
We asked for a clear statement that students and staff would not be subject to discrimination as a result of participating in peaceful protests, including prosecution or disciplinary measures . The university's policies regarding its non-discrimination obligations may implicitly include non-discrimination towards individuals involved in protest activities, however, this does not guarantee that those involved in protests, characterised by management as 'disruptive', will not be subjected to disciplinary action. A number of students and staff have expressed fears that their degrees or jobs would be put at risk if they were to participate in the occupation or other non-violent acts of protest. Management's unwillingness to reassure these individuals stifles political engagement and produces a climate of fear and insecurity.
The higher and further education sectors in Wales and the United Kingdom are facing serious and frightening changes, the implications of which are unknown. We have consistently raised a number of very important issues that pertain directly to the future direction of education and given the seriousness of this issue, we would have expected from you an equally serious response.
Aber Students Against the Cuts