Students hail retreat by elite universities

By Lizzie Cocker

Students have celebrated a stunning victory after the Russell Group of elite universities bowed to demands for all its submissions to the tuition fees review to be made public.

The Aldwych Group, which represents students from the Russell Group, said the previous refusal to release submissions to Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding under the Freedom of Information Act seemed “disingenuous and underhand.”

It said the group’s lack of transparency over the review contradicted its principled stance in opposition to higher education funding cuts which director Dr Wendy Piatt had publicly criticised.

The Russell Group’s secrecy also sparked speculation about what the group had to hide.

Aldwych Group chairman Emmanuel Inwang said: “I question exactly what the Russell Group doesn’t want the public and students to see.”

Following pressure from students, Dr Piatt and Russell Group chairman Michael Arthur swiftly invited Aldwych Group officers for talks and then agreed to release every submission between this Friday and Monday next week.

Mr Inwang said: “The Russell Group represents some of Britain’s most elite institutions and what they say on higher education funding is obviously going to carry a lot of weight with the Browne review panel as well as MPs if it goes to a vote in Parliament.

“When this review was commissioned it was promised that it was going to be transparent and that there would be a public discusion and debate on the issues. With the Russell Group due to release their submissions, it allows for that public debate and discussion.”