Government university funding plans are a 'Christmas kick in the teeth for the sector'

20 December 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the government's Christmas message of funding cuts, higher fees, fewer university places, a pay freeze and attacks on staff pensions was a 'Christmas kick in the teeth' for higher education and warned our universities risked falling behind on the world stage.

Today's cuts, announced in the grant letter, will come into force from April 2011 – before universities have the option to charge higher tuition fees. The letter also warns of further attacks on staff pensions, fewer university places and a pay freeze.
 
Universities are still reeling from the 80% cut to their teaching budgets starting from 2012, announced in the comprehensive spending review (CSR). Now – on top of £1.2 billion previously announced cuts – universities in 2011-12 are to lose a further £682 million in efficiency savings as teaching, research and infrastructure budgets take more hits.
 
The union said that the government's impossible dream of the higher education sector doing more for less looked even more ridiculous when put alongside the increased spending in other developed and developing countries.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The coalition's Christmas message to the sector is funding cuts, higher fees, fewer university places, a pay freeze and attacks on staff pensions. After weeks of attacks on students and universities through budget cuts and increased tuition fees the coalition has delivered a real Christmas kick in the teeth to the sector by announcing these cuts to funding and student places and attacks on pay and conditions.
 
'The government seems to think that the sector will be able to deliver more for less and students will be happy to pay three times the price. That is absolute madness, especially when we consider the increased spending on higher education in the vast majority of developed and developing countries around the world. Put bluntly, by cutting funding and access to university, attacking staff pay and conditions and charging students record fees we are going to be left behind.'
 
A recent UCU report discovered that universities will have to charge an average fee of almost £7,000 from 2012 just to make up the shortfall from the teaching budget cuts announced in the spending review. More on that can be found at: Universities will have to charge £7,000 annual fees just to break even
 
The full grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) from the business secretary, Vince Cable, and the universities minister, David Willetts, can be found here (.pdf).

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