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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Public service voices
University lecturer Dr Steve McCabe

University lecturer Dr Steve McCabe watched Chancellor Gordon Brown announce details of the spending review.

Here is his verdict on the government's plans.

Having spent most of my working life in the public sector, I am glad that there now appears to be an explicit recognition of the need to spend more money on both maintaining and improving standards of delivery.

Obviously, given the huge under-investment in many of these areas over the last couple of decades, it remains to be seen how successful this extra spending will be.

I know many people in the public sector who find it increasingly hard to maintain their own standards of living on the salaries that are offered.

It is notable that Mr Brown made no mention of how to address this problem.

Being a full time lecturer with two children, I am particularly happy to see the government's commitment to increased spending on education.

Even in the time my eldest son James has been at school, I have seen improvement in the basic facilities.

The extra money that head teachers will have at their disposal will, I suspect, merely remedy the long-term problems that exist.

If this additional money can be used to ensure that all school children can attain standards as good as any other country in Western Europe, then the increased spending will be worthwhile.

However, children from disadvantaged backgrounds will always struggle to overcome the hurdles that deter them from seeing their future in further and higher education.

Whether the increased use of the education maintenance allowance will assist, I remain to be convinced.

Whilst I applaud Mr Brown's intention to increase stipends to PhD students and the creation of a national centre for excellence in teaching science, such students usually come from the old universities and, I would argue, students from disadvantaged backgrounds find it more difficult to gain access to such institutions.

Despite Mr Brown's repetition of the oft-quoted New Labour mantra "Education, education, education," it is important to ask how the target of 50% participation in higher education by the end of the decade will be achieved?

There was no mention of how the detested fee system will be reformed to encourage students from poorer backgrounds.

I am certain that the prospect of graduating with thousands of pounds of debt ensures that such students are positively discouraged.

As such, I found the comprehensive spending review disappointing


The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

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