Another universities u-turn as Vince Cable announces cuts to funding for students

25 June 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today said the removal of funding for student places at university was exactly the wrong move for the country at exactly the wrong time.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has received a revised grant letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, that says specific funding for 10,000 students starting university this year will be axed from 2011-12, on top of a previously announced drop in funding.
The union said the letter exposed the Liberal Democrats' pro-university rhetoric during in the election as lacking any substance and accused the party of lacking credibility. It also drew attention to Vince Cable's apparent opposition to axing student numbers in an article for his local paper earlier this month.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Making further cuts to a sector that has already been devastated by cuts is the wrong move at the wrong time. The coalition does seem to be on message when it comes to attacking universities as we have seen the Liberal Democrats go from a party supposedly committed to fighting for students and universities to one that is now slashing funding for students and considering abstaining on any vote on tuition fees.
'The simple truth is that cuts cannot be made without consequences. There are already thousands of jobs at risk in our universities and we have some of the biggest class sizes in the world. If the coalition government pushes ahead with its punitive agenda, we will see teachers on the dole, students in larger classes and a higher education sector unable to contribute as much to the economy or society.'
The original grant letter in December 2009, from the previous government, set out the most devastating cuts higher education had seen for years, with a 6.6% overall reduction in funding, including additional cuts of £135m to ones previously announced. For the first time in a decade the unit of public spending per student was cut in real terms.
Funding will also drop in the years 2011-12 and 2012-13, when the funding for the additional 10,000 students will no longer be available. Essentially, universities will need to find the money to fund the 10,000 students at a time when they are already receiving less government money.
This will result in a second wave of cuts to the unit of spending per student, taking effect from 2011-12. In addition to the £118m funding axed for extra students, the government is also cutting £82m from teaching.