Monday 23 October 2017

British universities warned to expect cuts of over £4bn

Michael Savage in London

UNIVERSITIES in Britain have been warned to expect cuts of more than £4bn (€4.5bn) in the 'Comprehensive Spending Review', a leaked document reveals.

Funding for teaching will be cut by £3.2bn (€3.6bn), and a further £1bn (€1.1bn) will be cut from research funding, according to a secret memo sent to vice-chancellors by the head of universities UK, Steve Smith.

The scale of the cuts reveals the extent to which university funding will be shifted on to the shoulders of students. Some courses will be threatened and there is an expectation that several struggling universities will merge or be closed.

In the note, Professor Smith warns his counterparts that the cuts set out this week in the Browne review "confirm our worst fears". He added that the figures for possible cuts were becoming "worse and worse".

Edmund Browne's assessment of university funding concluded that the Higher Education Funding Council for England, responsible for distributing money, will only have £700m (€793m) to hand out for teaching, down from the current sum of £3.9bn (€4.4bn). It represents a 79pc reduction.

Universities UK has already pleaded with the British treasury to reduce the savings it hopes to gain. It has argued that Chancellor George Osborne's aim of cutting Whitehall department budgets by between 25pc and 40pc over five years could leave universities out of pocket by as much as £6.6bn (€7.5bn).

"There remains a terrible danger of the valley of death becoming a reality for all institutions, and avoiding that is our core concern," Professor Smith said in the email, leaked yesterday. "Browne's figures confirm our worst fears."


Whitehall sources said they could not confirm the figure, but it is understood to be realistic. The stark warning immediately provoked concern from unions and student groups.

"It is hard to believe that any government could contemplate making £4.2bn (€4.7bn) cuts to higher education given that it generates massive economic growth," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the British University and College Union.

"Cuts of this magnitude will leave many cities and towns without a local university and our students paying the highest public fees in the world." (© Independent News Service)

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