Cuts to higher education budget counterproductive – UUK

Universities UK’s submission to the spending review today (7 October) outlines the critical role that universities will play in helping secure the UK’s future economic growth and prosperity.

The submission outlines why:

  • Future economic growth in the UK depends on having a strong research base and a highly-skilled workforce
  • Cutting back on investment in the forthcoming Spending Review could impact negatively on the Government's plans to reduce the fiscal deficit by 2014-15
  • Public investment in universities leverages investment from private sources, and is critical to innovation and growth in the private sector
  • Cuts could have devastating effects on the student experience and opportunities for social mobility, as well as our capacity to deliver high-quality frontline services in healthcare and school education

Professor Steve Smith, Universities UK President, said: "The UK's competitor economies face the same deficit reduction challenges as we do, but they have decided to invest in higher education at this crucial time, not cut it. This is because they recognise the importance of universities to the future growth of their economies.

"Higher education also has an important role to play in promoting an equitable society through the opportunities to study at university. It is imperative that we maintain this commitment to help people improve their future prospects. The OECD has also stated recently that a drop in the number of graduates would mean that in the long term, our economic growth potential is more limited.

"Going to university still has a significant impact on our future earnings too. And despite the significant expansion in the higher education sector, the amount that a UK graduate can earn in his or her lifetime is still higher than for graduates in many other countries."

Recommendations for student funding and finance include:

  • The subsidy on student loans must be lower for higher graduate earners
  • The graduate contribution should increase in recognition of the private benefits that are linked to a high-quality higher education system

Recommendations for university research include:

  • Ensure that concentration of research funding achieves an appropriate balance between supporting excellence and maintaining necessary diversity
  • Maintain the current system for funding research (the dual support system

On the issues of opening up the market to private higher education providers and further education colleges, UUK's submission recommends:

  • Appropriate and proportionate regulatory structures should be developed that ensure a 'level playing field' across the range of higher education providers

Other recommendations include:

  • Immigration policy should be examined more closely as it threatens to undermine the contribution to the UK's economy made by international students and staff
  • Any necessary reductions in funding must be implemented towards the end of the spending review period

The UUK spending review submission builds on the submission from the CBI, which called on the Government to prioritise the areas that enable the economy to grow. These included knowledge assets such as research and development, and human capital via education and skills.


  1. The Universities UK spending review submission will be available to download from the UUK website on the morning of Thursday 7 October 2010 at the following address:
  2. If you have any queries, please contact the UUK press office on 020 7419 5424 or 0207 419 5407 or email
  3. Universities UK is the major representative body and membership organisation for the higher education sector. It represents the UK's universities and some higher education colleges. Its 134 members are the executive heads of these institutions. Universities UK works closely with policy makers and key education stakeholders to advance the interests of universities and to spread good practice throughout the higher education sector. Founded in 1918 and formerly known as the Committee for Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP), Universities UK celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2008.

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