Russell Group and Universities UK comment on the 2015 budget

Universities UK and Russell Group have responded to yesterday's Budget announcement.

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget speech, Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“We welcome the announcement that from 2017-18 tuition fees will increase in line with inflation for universities that provide excellent teaching.

“Russell Group universities are committed to providing an outstanding student experience but since 2012 inflation has eaten into the value of funding available. Next year, £9,000 tuition fees will be worth only £8,200 in 2012 terms and universities are already having to do more with less. Good teaching and world-class facilities require proper investment and indexing the fees cap to inflation is a crucial step towards the long-term sustainability of the UK’s leading universities.

“However, it is vital that appropriate measures are used to judge teaching excellence, without adding to the regulatory burden on universities or stifling innovation. We look forward to engaging with the Government and other key stakeholders on the Teaching Excellence Framework consultation.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, responded to today’s Budget which included an announcement that maintenance grants for students in England will be replaced by loans of up to £8,200 (plus London weighting) from 2016-17, paid back after graduates earn above £21,000. She said: “The proposed shift from maintenance grants to loans does not in itself affect the money students receive for their living costs. It does affect the amount of money they pay back after they have graduated and are earning more than £21,000.

“The priority for Universities UK will be to ensure that any changes to the current student funding system in England do not deter students from poorer backgrounds from applying to university. It is vital also that such a funding change is properly communicated so that potential students and their families are fully aware of the financial support available and how the student loans system works.

“With skills, jobs, productivity, education and research high on the government's agenda, it is clear that universities have an important role to play in this aim. But they can only do this if they are properly funded.”

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