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Leading North East academic quits job in protest at government's tuition fee rise

3 February 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

An esteemed North East based pharmacy lecturer has resigned from his post in protest at how he believes the new system of university finance, which will see tuition fees triple, will price poorer students out.

Dr Tristan Learoyd, who has taught pharmacy at the University of Sunderland for the past two years, says his decision was prompted by the recent announcement of an 83% cut in state funding to his institution. As with universities across the country, that lost money is expected to be replaced through tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.
The academic, who at just 29, has a string of accolades to his name (see notes), is also disillusioned by the changing environment for lecturers who he says increasingly have to focus on targets rather than providing a high-quality academic experience.
Dr Learoyd, who grew up in Middlesbrough, 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. Salaries in the industry are going down so these students will have no prospect of paying off that amount of debt. The same students who would have gone to university when I went will no longer be able to go. They will be pushed further and further into poverty.'
In his resignation letter, Dr Learoyd writes: 'I refuse to comply and be part of a privatised university education system. 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.'
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Dr Learoyd chose university teaching thinking that his work would give ordinary people better life chances and it is very sad that he has now reached the conclusion that universities may no longer do that. I know there are many academics out there who share Dr Learoyd's views but are not in a position to be able to take such a principled stand.'


Dr Tristan Learoyd's achievements include:

  • The youngest academic pharmacist representative of the English National Pharmacy Board, elected Feb 2010
  • The youngest person in history to have been elected to the English National Pharmacy Board
  • The youngest pharmacist for a generation to have been elected to the RPSGB council, May 2009
  • Award for research at the British Pharmaceutical Conference 2007
  • A headline presentation at the British Pharmaceutical Conference 2010

Read more in The Independent