The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has forecast further cuts of 14 per cent per student in real terms in the next three years, in addition to the 25 per cent drop since 1990.
In a bid for public funds, it asked for more than pounds 2bn to cover urgent maintenance work, library expansions, new technology and safety measures. Insurance against terrorist attacks cost the universities pounds 5m a year, it said.
In the past 10 years the proportion of school-leavers going to university has risen from one in five to almost one in three, but funding has not kept pace with this growth.
Although the universities attract pounds 1.5bn in foreign exchange from overseas students, universities are still unable to employ sufficient staff or to reduce a pounds 1bn backlog of maintenance work, the submission says.