For Staff

University response to the Browne report

This statement gives Vice-Chancellor's Executive Group's (VCEG) initial response to the Browne report and is based on a press release issued to local and student media early on 12 October 2010.

The funding reforms proposed today by Lord Browne will enable the University of Leeds to continue to deliver high-quality degrees and provide it with a sustainable financial future.

We don't know how much the University of Leeds will charge in fees until we can work through the implications of next week's cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), but the principle is that the university will not make a profit from students and all income will be invested in delivering high-quality education.

The University of Leeds welcomes the key aspects of the Browne report;

  • The principle of no up-front fees
  • Better information for students to inform their choice of institution
  • Affordable repayments, for example an income of £25,000 a year will mean repayments of £7 a week
  • A commitment to widening participation, to ensure that higher education remains accessible to all who will benefit from it, regardless of background or wealth
  • The increase in loans (7%) and maintenance grants (by 12%)
  • The increase of the repayment threshold to £21,000 The removal of upfront fees for part time students.

In particular, we welcome Lord Browne's recommendations that higher education remains free at the point of use, with no student paying fees upfront to attend university.

Until now, the government paid most of the overall teaching cost, but with predicted cuts to teaching budgets of 66% in next week's CSR, students will be asked to contribute more in order to protect the quality of their education.  Without the Browne recommendations, the effect of such cuts would be unthinkable.

Taking a degree at the University of Leeds is an investment for the student and the government.  Both the individual and the country benefit from higher education and it is right that both should contribute to the cost.  In purely financial terms, graduates can expect to earn around £160,000 more than someone with two A Levels over the course of their life (source: PWC report for UUK, 2007).

Student loans are not like ordinary debts; graduates only start paying back this debt when they are in a position to do so. Unlike a mortgage, where they can take away your house if you fail to repay, nobody can take away your education and you only pay when you can afford to do so.  Graduates have to be earning more than £21,000 to begin paying back the loan, and if their income drops, the payments drop. 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur said: "We want to continue to provide an outstanding education for our students but to do this we need financial sustainability. With the threat of cuts in government funding looming over us, the Browne Review gives us the opportunity to continue delivering the world-class education that our students expect and deserve. Lord Browne has thrown us a lifeline.

"We appreciate potential students will be concerned about increased fees but we will work with them to understand how supportive the Browne report recommendations are for students, particularly those in most need.  We can reassure students that every penny in fees will go back into their education."

Professor Vivien Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Education, said: "It is essential that universities and government now do all we can to ensure that any student with the talent to succeed is able to come to university.

"Our students are members of our university community and we will keep treating them as partners to retain an open, honest dialogue in these uncertain times. This is integral to the values and the mission of the University of Leeds."

In 2010/11, one in four students at the University of Leeds received a bursary. The University provides around 200 scholarships a year to encourage pupils from less well-off backgrounds to come to Leeds.