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Taking action in higher education

Cash-strapped universities must invest in substance, not style, warns UCU

19 February 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Commenting on reports this morning that universities in financial difficulties are banking on money from increased student fees, UCU warned such a strategy was reckless considering that changes to the student funding regime, including higher fees in 2006, have not seen any improvement in attracting students from non-traditional backgrounds in to higher education.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Universities should not be banking on extra cash from student fees ahead of next year's review. We have seen no improvement in students from non-traditional backgrounds going to university under the current regime, despite the money being spent on trying to encourage them.

'The underfunding of higher education continues to put our proud international record in jeopardy. Staff have been overachieving on low pay and with limited resources for decades and they have to now be properly rewarded and supported.

'The funding council must take whatever action is necessary to ensure that no institution is put at risk and to ensure that jobs, staff pay commitments and students' courses are safeguarded. We are particularly concerned by the news that some institutions are opting for aesthetic makeovers to try and attract fee-paying students to their institutions. Flashy buildings can never compensate for poorly-funded courses or excuse shortcuts when it comes to delivering education.'