Taxpayer Funding for UK Universities Drops to 100 Year Low

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that students will have to fund almost half of universities’ total budgets, as annual public spending on education in England will drop to just 15 per cent – the lowest in over a hundred years, writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.

The Government has been accused of “passing the buck” on higher education by the University and College Union, saying that the move threatens “decades of progress”.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said:

“This study shows how over the last 30 years higher education funding has shifted from the state to the student.

“This Government’s regressive university reforms will accelerate this process further and see annual public investment in teaching and research fall to its lowest proportion in over a century.

“You cannot maintain a world-class university system in the 21st century by turning the clock back to the 1900s and before.”

For this coming September, universities will be able to charge up to £9,000 in annual tuition fees – almost three times the current maximum. This rise is to offset the 44 percent drop in the amount of state funding available for teaching and research over the next three years.

The UCU study forecasts that public expenditure on teaching and research will fall from £6.6bn in 2011/12 to £3.7bn in 2014/15.

It claims that annual Government funding for teaching and research will make up just 15 per cent of universities’ income by 2015 – a percentage that hasn’t been this low since the 1900s.

And the UCU say that this drop will place a heavy burden on the shoulders of students.

“The study claimed the proportion of funding from students – through higher tuition fees – is expected to reach 47.2 per cent by 2013/2014. This would represent the highest level since the 1890s. In the early 1970s, this share stood at just over six per cent.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said:

“Our reforms put university finances on to a long-term sustainable basis. Students will have more study choices and funding for universities will follow their decisions.

“We estimate that total funding for the sector could increase by around 10 per cent over the spending review period.”