Severe lack of staff hits universities

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The Independent Online

A drastic shortage of recruits for academic jobs is threatening government plans to expand higher education, says a report out today.

A drastic shortage of recruits for academic jobs is threatening government plans to expand higher education, says a report out today.

One in five universities in Britain told researchers they had difficulties "most of the time" recruiting staff last year.

The worst areas include law, engineering and IT, where potential recruits can earn far more in the private sector. Medicine and education also give cause for concern, according to the survey, which was carried out by Universities UK, the body that represents university vice-chancellors.

A "bulge" in the number of academics coming up to retirement age is also likely to make the situation worse in the next few years, according to Philip Love, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association.

The figures show the number of universities with academic recruitment difficulties has trebled in the past four years, while 24 per cent had problems recruiting administrative, technical and clerical staff.

Mr Love said the shortages were growing against a background of universities needing to recruit extra staff to meet the Government's objective of increasing student numbers. Ministers have set a target of getting 50 per cent of young people into higher education by the end of the decade.

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