Oxford University's reputation as a world leader in higher education is being threatened by funding cuts and restrictions on international students, its vice-chancellor has warned.
Too many talented graduates were being lured away by better financial support abroad for research jobs, Andrew Hamilton said in his annual speech to the university. In addition, visa restrictions were threatening "the academic health of the university".
All leading UK universities faced a similar threat. "If disadvantage is not addressed the UK higher education sector will increasingly lose out to its international competitors in the recruitment of the best students and academics," Professor Hamilton said. The funding gap was "the single biggest reason why those to whom we make offers turn us down".
US universities were able to offer a five-year financial package to overseas graduates. At Oxford, just over half of graduates received full scholarships for post-graduate study.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England in July axed its research students awards scheme, which had provided £1.5m to support overseas graduates at Oxford.
Visa restrictions putting new limits on the number of international academics that could be recruited also posed serious risks to the standing of universities – both in terms of scholarship and economics, he said.
"When other governments are ramping up investment in higher education, particularly for research, treading water will not be enough," Professor Hamilton said.