University Alliance warns against sleepwalking towards a privatised university sector

In response to today’s Spending Review announcements, Libby Aston, Director of University Alliance said:

“These proposals to replace direct public funding with graduate contribution constitute a radical shift to an almost entirely market-based system and could bring about irreversible change to the fundamental nature of our universities.  We will work closely with the Government to make sure we don’t sleepwalk into a system that is more privatised than even the US.

“At a time when our international competitors are investing heavily in higher education, science and research, the UK must ensure that its universities are equipped to drive economic recovery and growth. We welcome the protection of the science budget and the new proposals for a fairer system of graduate contributions but the Government must recognise that there is a strong case for a greater level of direct public funding for
teaching than it is proposing today.

“Alliance universities are strong and popular institutions and will of course engage with any new system of higher education funding but there has to be thorough consideration and consultation on these proposals to mitigate any risk to students, universities and public investment alike.”


Notes for editors:

  1. In the US 80% of students are studying at public universities, paying low or moderate fee levels on courses that receive direct public funding.
  2. Every OECD country is currently investing in higher education except the UK and Romania.  In the UK’s global, knowledge-based economy, 80% of new jobs are in high skill areas.  Innovation was responsible for two-thirds of productivity growth between 2000-2007 and was the common defining feature of the fastest growing 6% of businesses between 2002 – 2008.  These businesses generated half of all jobs created by existing businesses during this time.

About the Alliance:

University Alliance represents 23 major, business-focussed universities at the heart of the sector delivering world-leading research with impact.Alliance universities educate over 26% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest graduate-level employment rates. Alliance universities offer a research- informed, academic learning environment and a culture of innovation and enterprise, equipping graduates who will help deliver growth to the UK economy. Our universities maintain a revolving door with business to help ensure graduate employers get innovative and thoughtful, professionally accredited graduates with the right skills to help grow their businesses.

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, Teesside University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact Sam Jones at the University Alliance office on 07767 673 982 or email

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