CBI director John Cridland / Susannah Ireland


Rising costs will force some British universities to close, according to the director of a prominent business lobbying group.

Certain smaller universities are at risk, says John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.

"We are probably going to move into a period of consolidation – there are too many universities for our capacity to cope with them being separate," Cridland told a fringe event at the Labour Party conference yesterday. This would potentially result in ‘sensible consolidation’, and more collaboration between institutions.

"I am not looking to affect the numbers of students," said Cridland. "I am thinking about whether some are a little bit too small; one or two are particularly vulnerable with falls in foreign students."

Pam Tatlow, a representative of the Million+ group of newer universities, disagreed. She argued that universities were full a few years ago, and suggested that rather than ‘too many students’ or ‘too many universities’, the problem was ‘a funding system that is not doing the right things’.