UUK response to savings for HE
Universities UK response to £180m ‘efficiency savings’ for higher education
Universities UK has responded to today's (Thursday) letter from the Secretary of State which outlines how the 2009 Budget will affect the higher education sector.
Rick Trainor, President, Universities UK, said: "Since the Budget announcement, universities have been preparing for a challenging outcome. Although the Secretary of State's letter repeats the assurance in the Budget about safeguarding research council expenditure, we note that the more general block grant for research, as well as for teaching, will now be more vulnerable to cuts.
"Nevertheless, we are pleased the Secretary of State has recognised the priority of protecting and enhancing the quality of teaching and research while sustaining progress in widening participation - this commitment chimes with the priorities we set out in a recent communication to him. It is important that the UK remain competitive at a time when many countries are now catching up or indeed have overtaken the UK in terms of investment in higher education.
"We also welcome the Secretary of State's recognition of the vital role of higher education in helping to chart a route out of the current economic climate. We believe universities are best able to do this by exercising their autonomy in delivering courses and programmes which best meet the demands of students, employers and the economy.
"Universities need to be able to plan ahead, not least in a difficult financial climate, so we are concerned about the possibility that the funding council may revisit the 2009-10 grant allocation, and the impact this may have on institutions. Finding efficiency savings of some £180m will be a serious challenge; it is vital that the sector has the autonomy and flexibility to determine how these will be found.
"We are concerned that there is no explicit commitment to the unit of funding for teaching in the future. Since the last Spending Review, this has been a consistent statement from DIUS, so its absence from the Secretary of State's letter is alarming.
"UUK has highlighted the inherent drawbacks in contestable funding and we will be looking to work closely with the funding council on how this policy proposal will be developed.
"Given the confirmation that additional student recruitment is to be limited to 10,000 in 2010-2011, we urgently seek clarification on how many of these have already been allocated.
"Whatever additional efficiencies universities can implement in the short time available, some institutions may have no choice but to make real cuts in teaching and research activity during the two years covered by the Secretary of State's letter."
1. To view the Secretary of State's letter to the Chairman of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, visit: