£940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy

The govt has announced a £940m university funding cut, but surely it is better having teachers teaching and young people learning than consigning thousands to the dole, writes Sally hunt.

Sally Hunt is the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

This week’s announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) that universities will face £940 million worth of cuts over the next 18 months has sparked much debate in the sector. Paul Marshall, head of the 1994 group of universities, accused the government of leaving the economy on course for a “rough ride”, while shadow higher education spokesperson, Gareth Thomas, described the plans as “unfair, unnecessary and unsustainable”.

The response from the coalition has been all too predictable with ministers trotting out the same old line that in times of austerity higher education must get used to tightening its belt.

It’s the type of lazy thinking that we have come to expect from this government, who in the space of less than a year have transferred the cost of funding higher education from the state to the student by tripling the cost of tuition fees at the same time as cutting the university teaching budget by 80 per cent.

The universities minister, David Willletts, has sought to justify these changes by claiming that students are a “burden on the taxpayer” and that it should be up to them as consumers to fund the system. His comments imply that students and universities alike are a drain on the nation’s finances when the truth is the opposite.

Consider for a moment the following facts: UK universities generate £60 billion a year for UK economy – that’s more than the agricultural, advertising, pharmaceutical and postal industries. For every one pound spent on them we receive two-pounds fifty back. That’s an excellent return by anybody’s book.

Cutting their funding will inevitably impact on economic growth, at a time when many other developed and developing competitors are investing highly in their higher education systems. It is a stinging indictment that, Romania aside, we are the only country cutting back funding in vital areas such as universities and research.

Make no mistake; what the government is proposing will fundamentally change the way in which universities are funded, how they operate and what their role is. Teaching budgets in some subjects, such as the arts and humanities, are being completely wiped out as state support disappears and we move towards a system of survival of the fittest.

There is a very real danger that some institutions will be forced to close which would be a disaster for their local communities. Any net loss of income to the universities not only adversely affects them but also has a negative knock-on impact on many local businesses and industries that rely upon student income and contracts with their local institution.

This is the last thing our country needs. The government urgently needs to get out there and talk to those involved in education. Unless it puts on hold its punitive cuts agenda it will undermine the social and economic future of this country. Surely it is better having teachers teaching and young people learning than consigning thousands to the dole.

24 Responses to “£940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy”

  1. Jordan Hall

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  2. GoldAnthUncut

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  3. menburke

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy http://bit.ly/dUdIZy

  4. Kim Blake

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  5. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  6. Kim Harrison

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  7. UCU

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  8. Daniel Ridsdale

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  9. Amanda Hsieh

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy http://bit.ly/dUdIZy

  10. Kevin Paterson

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  11. Jayne Hill

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  12. PCS MOD Group

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  13. Paul Marshall

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  14. 1994 Group

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  15. M Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy http://bit.ly/dUdIZy

  16. Martyn Moss

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  17. Sam Grogan

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  18. Astrid Schepman

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  19. Mr. Sensible

    couldn’t agree more, Sally.

  20. Richard

    If students are a burden on the taxpayer, then so too are apprentices.

  21. Andrew Croft

    RT @leftfootfwd: £940m university funding cut will be a disaster for the economy writes @ucu gen sec Sally Hunt http://bit.ly/g5ieFk

  22. Phil O'Keefe

    What I can’t get out of my head is that if we cancelled one aircraft carrier, for which we seem to have no planes or seamen, then there would be no need for higher education cuts or £9,000 fees. If we cancelled both, then higher education could be free.

  23. Jane Warren

    What I can’t understand is how trebling fees which have to be stumped up in advance by the taxpayer in loans to students with no guaranteed ability to repay can be seen as saving money. Quite aside from the ethical arguments against this course of action.

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