Daily View: University funding cuts
Universities in England have been told that they will receive less funding for the first time since Labour came to power. Commentators ask what is next for higher education.
Richard Garner in the Independent asks if we are going to see the end of the "student experience":
"The past few years, with the introduction of top-up fees, has seen students demanding more value for money from their lecturers and more one-on-one sessions to help them through their courses. An increase in tuition fees is likely to add to this pressure from students keen to get value for money. However, the cuts in funding are also likely to lead to a reduction in lecturers' jobs, making it more difficult to find the time for increased engagement. It seems likely, in this world of rapidly advancing technology, that more and more interaction between students and lecturers will take place online. It's a university education, Jim, but not as we know it."
The Independent's editorial points out that a decline in admissions isn't necessarily a bad thing:
"The rapid expansion of tertiary education has been a success for this government, with applications continuing to rise, despite fee increases and, for most, less generous assistance from the state. But the Government's target of getting 50 per cent of school-leavers into higher education was always of dubious worth. A little more selectivity could help raise standards and reduce drop-out rates."
Ros Coward in the Daily Mail says that because competition for places is going to get tougher, the question of what to do about EU students has to be asked:
"In a period of expansion, EU students added bulk to university numbers at a time when bulk was good and money flowed to universities based on the numbers they were teaching. But now, because the economy has contracted, these numbers look much more problematic."
Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express welcomes universities scaling down:
"The higher education system is a shambles. Its bloated, expensive structure has done nothing for the economy. Far too many young people have been pushed into universities against their own interests. They have been given a false prospectus about the benefits of a degree, particularly one in a weak subject from a second-rate university."
The Telegraph editorial says now the funding is to be cut, a cap on fees has to be relaxed:
"The cap, a political sop to Labour MPs opposed to the whole idea of fees, threatens real damage - particularly to our elite universities. Britain has four of the top 10 global institutions, a remarkable record given the paucity of funding: Harvard is this year charging nearly £22,000 in tuition fees. Our universities will struggle to maintain their international standing without access to more resources."
Chair of the Russell Group of top universities and vice-chancellor of Leeds university Professor Michael Arthur said on the Today programme that this cut will be small but he is worried that next week's budget will bring more cuts:
"This size of cut won't have an effect on its own, but it's a harbinger of things to come... I think it's really clear that further cuts beyond this will make things quite problematic."
Links in full
Independent | Higher education, too, must adapt to more austere times
Richard Garner | Independent | The future of further education begins today
Ros Coward | Daily Mail | Why are British taxpayers funding EU students?
Leo McKinstry | Daily Express | Higher education is a shambles of Labour's making
Telegraph | Liberate our universities
Michael Arthur | BBC Today Programme | Funding cuts 'will affect education'