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New poll shows public wants incoming government to pay up to stop universities going bust

28 June 2024

Around three in four voters (74%) think the next government should step in with emergency funding for universities in financial crisis, according to new polling.

The polling, conducted by Savanta on behalf of UCU, found a clear majority of supporters of every major political party back government intervention for institutions at risk of closure, including more than eight in 10 (81%) of those who intend to vote Labour and 77% of those who intend to vote Conservative.

UCU said the polling shows that a commitment to provide more financial support for higher education is a vote winner, and that the public will back an incoming government using public money to protect the sector.

The polling comes after the Office for Students' annual report on university finances warned that two in five institutions expect to be in deficit this academic year with most facing deteriorating finances over the next few years.

On BBC Radio 4's Today show yesterday shadow education secretary Bridget Philipson said an incoming Labour government will stabilise higher education.

UCU's manifesto calls for an end to tuition fees and for businesses to pay more towards the cost of higher education to create a properly funded, fair and sustainable education system that works for everyone.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'This polling shows the British public wants the incoming government to step in and provide urgent financial support to any university at risk of going under. If elected into office next week, the Labour Party has rightly said higher education will be a day-one priority, but it also needs to realise that reckless market dogma has pushed universities to the brink and offer realistic solutions to the crisis.

'To stave off collapse, higher education must be publicly funded, anything less would be a historic failure.'

Last updated: 8 July 2024