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UCU accuses ministers of using looming financial crisis to try and impose severe restrictions on universities

16 July 2020 | last updated: 24 July 2020

UCU today accused ministers of using a looming financial crisis to try and impose severe restrictions on universities.

Government guidance says not all universities will be 'prevented from exiting the market' and any public funding 'would come with restrictions to be determined on a case-by-case basis'.

Stressing once again that this was not the bailout that UCU and others have called for to secure the future of universities, the guidance warns that 'financial support in the form of repayable loans will only be provided if there is a case to do so, and this is not a guarantee that no organisation will go into insolvency'.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'This third so-called bailout in a matter of months suggests the government has recognised there is a serious crisis, but would rather use it to try and impose severe restrictions on universities than ensure their survival.

'Higher education is one of the few things we remain a world leader in, yet the government is prepared to exploit universities' financial difficulties to impose evidence-free ideology and reduce the diversity and strength in depth of university courses and research. What are these so-called low-quality courses? Where is the evidence that cutting the number of people going to university can improve our economy?

'The government's obsession with graduate earnings as a sole measure of quality exposes its refusal to engage with the real issues behind inequality. Graduate salaries are heavily determined by pre-existing factors such as gender, race, social background, contacts and previous education.

'We need a proper plan to underwrite the funding that universities are projected to lose to avert a looming crisis. All degree study has the potential to increase earnings, but it also brings with it so much more than that as students gain many social and cultural benefits from going to university.'

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