Ahead of the Autumn statement, University Alliance has warned the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt of ‘serious financial challenges’ that present a significant risk of ‘a two-tier university system emerging’.
Vanessa Wilson, CEO of University Alliance wrote to the Chancellor suggesting several low-cost or cost-neutral policies to ensure professional and technical universities can continue to excel in high-quality skills provision.
Vanessa Wilson said: “The university sector is facing serious financial challenges: UK universities now make a loss on teaching for home students and on research. A recent House of Lords Inquiry found that “the current system of higher education funding is not sustainable and will lead to growing issues in the coming years”.
“There are political, social and economic imperatives to address this: most parents want their children to attend university, the earnings gap between the most and least privileged is significantly reduced for university graduates, and there is a growing high-level skills shortage. Long-term changes are needed, but we believe short-term, cost-neutral solutions should be implemented now.”
In the letter, University Alliance made the following recommendations to the Treasury:
- To increase student maintenance support to keep up with the cost-of-living crisis – citing modelling by London Economics, which shows this can be in a cost-neutral way.
- To urgently review Higher Education participation in the Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS) – in response to an anticipated 5% increase in pension contributions, that technical and professional universities are legally bound to offer by the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act.
- To make a coordinated effort to boost the global reputation of UK higher education in public statements and messaging – which Vanessa Wilson cites as “one of the most impactful and cost-free actions the government could take to support the financial sustainability of UK universities.”
The letter follows on from a number of short-term and long-term policy recommendations University Alliance made in their recently published policy briefing, ‘Let’s Get Technical’ to harness technical education in the UK.
Read the full letter here.#letsgettechnical