University cuts 'a kick in the teeth'

Ministers announced plans to reduce student numbers today as part of the most swingeing public spending cuts in higher education for a generation.



Universities will have to grapple cuts of nearly £700 million in their budgets next year, Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

The funding cut, which comes into effect before they can expect any increased revenue from rises in tuition fees, was described as “a Christmas kick in the teeth” by lecturers’ leaders.

Under it, student numbers will be frozen this year – but funding for an extra 10,000 places agreed by the Coalition Government for this September will be withdrawn the following year.

The announcement comes as universities face an unprecedented demand for student places next September.

Up to 209,000 youngsters denied a place this autumn will be competing with those anxious to avoid paying higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year coming into force in September 2012.

It is only the second cut in student numbers in two decades. The only other time numbers were reduced was in the run-up to the introduction of top-up fees five years ago, Since then, they have steadily risen with a total of 1.2million student places funded this year. This is planned to drop to 1.19 million in 2012/3.

In a letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England – the body responsible for distributing finance for universities, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “As a provisional planning assumption, universities and colleges should work on the basis that this pulse of additional entrant places will not not be repeated in 2012/3 and so the extra 10,000 places will not be repeated.”

The money was used to provide extra places in the so-called STEM subjects - science, maths, engineering and technology – deemed essential for the future of the economy.

The biggest victim of this year’s cuts is capital funding – slashed from £532 million this year to £223 million next.

The teaching budget will also be reduced from £4,949 million to £4.645 million – prompting fears of further redundancies and axed courses. Grants for research will also be reduced from £1,618 million to £1, 549 million.

“The Coalition’s Christmas message to the sector is funding cuts, higher fees, fewer university places, a pay freeze and attacks on staff pensions,” said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union.

“The Government seems to think that the sector will be able to deliver more for less and students will be happy to pay three times the price. This is absolute madness.”

Professor Steve Smith, president of Universities UK – the body which represents vice-chancellors – and vice-chancellor of Exeter University, added: “The strict controls on student numbers means there may again be a considerable number of unplaced UCAS applicants in 2011. This is at a time when we expect to see record numbers applying to university.”

Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group – representing 20 of the country’s leading research institutions, added: “This will just make it even more difficult for Russell Group universities to provide a first rate student experience on a par with that provided by much better resourced universities in other countries.”

Meanwhile, students are planning a new demonstration in central London against the planned rises in tuition fees for 29 January.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum