University Alliance responds to Lord Browne’s review

In response to Lord Browne’s review, Libby Aston, Director of University Alliance, said:

“We strongly welcome the recognition Lord Browne has given to the central role that universities play in the UK’s economic recovery and international competitiveness.

“Higher education is an investment in the engine of an innovation-driven economy; it provides good value to the taxpayer and will help deliver the economic growth the UK needs.

“It is therefore absolutely critical, that a new system for graduate contributions is not seen as a total substitute for public investment in universities. There is an equally strong case for public and graduate investment in universities and we need both if we are going to support aspiration and deliver the higher skilled workforce we need.

“Introducing a graduate contribution scheme is an opportunity to improve the system for students, universities and government that needs to be taken, but to do this there has to be a fundamental shift in understanding that it is graduates that need to contribute, not students.

“Such a scheme, as proposed by University Alliance, eliminates the very notion of upfront costs and tuition fee debt, putting in place a simplified system of financial support for students alongside a time-limited, graduate contribution, based on earnings. Quite simply – if you don’t benefit you don’t pay. But this principle must apply to the government as well – let’s not forget the massive public benefit of investing in universities.”


Notes to editors

  1. In the UK’s global, knowledge-based economy, 80% of new jobs are in high skill areas.
  2. Every OECD country is currently investing in higher education except the UK and Romania.
  3. Between 2000 and 2008 the UK fell from 3rd highest to 15th among top industrialised nations for the proportion of young people graduating.  We are now below the OECD average.
  4. The investment of public funding in universities is just that – an investment. The UK invests 1.1% of GDP in its universities. In return, they contribute 2.3% of GDP, making them generators of economic growth and wealth creation.
  5. For more information on universities as engines of an innovation-driven economy, University Alliance has published a paper that can be downloaded here.
  6. University Alliance proposal for a graduate contribution scheme can be downloaded here.

University Alliance represents 22 major, dynamic, business-like universities at the heart of the sector that deliver world-leading research with impact and are actively business focused.

Through evidence-based policy and research, the Alliance aims to improve policymaking in higher education to the benefit of the UK economy and society.
Alliance universities educate 27% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest
graduate-level employment rates. These universities offer a research informed,
academic learning environment and a culture of entrepreneurialism, equipping
graduates for the 21st century.

Alliance universities:

Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact: Tim Field, University Alliance on 0203 178 7491 or email

Further reading