A LECTURER has quit his job at Sunderland University in protest at education cuts and hikes in tuition fees.
Dr Tristan Learoyd (pictured), senior lecturer in pharmacy, feels so strongly about the situation that he is prepared to turn his back on the academic world.
The Coalition Government’s announcement of huge cuts to university funding and the possible tripling of fees sparked anger across the country and led to protests.
Dr Learoyd, like thousands of others, believes the measures will lead to an elitist system where only those with the cash can afford to go to university.
He said: “I grew up on Teesside which, like Sunderland, is a deprived area. The only way I could succeed was through access to education. There is no way I could have gone to university if it had cost £9,000 a year.
“I refuse to teach where it will be the content of somebody’s wallet – not the content of their character – that will determine their academic success.”
Dr Learoyd, who has no gripe with the University of Sunderland, where he has taught pharmacy for the past two years, said: “The university is at the heart of Sunderland and to be given an 83 per cent cut in funding is just scandalous.”
He believes the job of lecturers is to mentor and inspire their students and thinks the quality of teaching will go down as tutors have more pressure put on them to teach to financial targets.
At just 29, Dr Learoyd has a string of accolades to his name, including being the youngest academic pharmacist representative of the English National Pharmacy Board, the youngest person to have been elected to the English National Pharmacy Board, the youngest pharmacist for a generation to have been elected to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain council and an award for research at the British Pharmaceutical Conference.
He said: “When I went to university, there was still a degree of social mobility as people from poorer backgrounds, like myself, could get through but that will no longer be the case when the fees alone for a four-year pharmacy degree will cost up to £36,000.”
He said capable young people will no longer have the option of university and will be pushed further into poverty.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said many academics share Dr Learoyd’s views, but are not in a position to be able to take such a principled stand.
A spokesman for the University of Sunderland said it is always disappointing to lose a talented member of staff, but they respect Dr Learoyd’s views and understand the decision he has taken.