Strike action in higher education

Prime minister needs to look closer to home for university funding, says UCU

15 February 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU said today that the government needs to commit greater state funding to UK universities, rather than just trying to find other people to foot the bill.

Speaking as the prime minister is expected to outline plans to boost university donations from former students and business, UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'There is little doubt that our universities are seriously under-funded and it is encouraging that the government has recognised the problem. Any extra money is to be welcomed, but the obsession with cherry picking parts of the American model is not the way forward. The prime minister should look closer to home when considering who picks up the bill for higher education.

'There is not the same culture in this country of former students donating to their alma mater, and no guarantee that all universities would benefit. If the government wishes to follow examples from the United States we would suggest it starts by looking at government spending on higher education as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

'What the country desperately needs from the government is a clear commitment to higher education through greater public investment. The fact is that while government is interfering more in the running of universities, it is paying proportionately less and this is the worst of both worlds. Our world class universities need real support not gimmicks.'

International comparisons

Public funding on higher education as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lower in the UK than America and lower than the OECD and European averages. Since 1995 overall public investment in higher education in the UK has increased at half the rate of the OECD average, and also at half the rate of investment in our schools.

Public spending on higher education as a percentage of GDP:
United States - 1.2
OECD average - 1.1
European average - 1.1
United Kingdom - 0.8