Oxford struggles for cash after £6m teaching cuts

Oxford University is bracing itself for a decade of swingeing cuts, according to college bursars.

Some even believe the university may be forced to go private and join an elite group of UK universities along the lines of the Ivy League in the United States.

The threat is revealed today in the Oxford Student newspaper, which also carries an interview with the university's finance director who warns that he is having to budget for three further years of cuts after £6m was slashed from its teaching grant this year.

Lecturers' leaders have announced that a growing number of universities are voting for strike action over impending cuts. In the past two days, members of the University and College Union at University College London (UCL) and Westminster and Sussex universities have all voted in favour of strike action.

The UCL move is unprecedented in the 186-year history of the prestigious university. It is seeking a 10 per cent cut in staffing in its faculty of life sciences. Westminster has announced plans to get rid of 285 posts while Sussex staff have been told there could be 107 redundancies.

In the interview, Giles Kerr, Oxford's finance director, said funding from research would have to be used to help the university's internationally acclaimed tutorial system survive.

"It just isn't possible to maintain an Oxford-type teaching model, which I fundamentally believe we should, with the current income that it brings in so it has to be cross-subsidised by other activities," he said.

The threat to the future of the sector follows this year's budget allocations which saw a reduction of more than £500m in university funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which is responsible for financing universities.

One Oxford bursar, David Palfreyman of New College, said the squeeze could lead the university to "kick out Jeremy and Jeremiah – middle-class English students – and replace them with Hong Kong students who will pay more".

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