Richard Garner: After years of aspiration, thousands will feel betrayed

No one can doubt that universities are bearing the brunt of cuts in spending in the education service.

It was the first area of public spending to be singled out for significant cuts by the previous Labour government.

Now, we are told, it could face cuts of 35 per cent more as a result of the comprehensive spending squeeze.

The outcome of this is there for all to see today. Thousands of disappointed university hopefuls who have been told all through their school lives they should become the first people in their families to go to university face disappointment.

Some of them will be high flyers with three straight A grade passes. Others will have more modest qualifications but be from the disadvantaged backgrounds that politicians have desperately tried to persuade in recent years to aim higher.

There is no doubt that many of those who hear the Universities minister David Willetts' exhortation that one option would be to lower their sights and opt for a less competitive university next year will feel betrayed.

Other countries – most notably Germany and the United States of America – have invested heavily in higher education, believing it offers a way to equip their countries with the kind of workforce they will need to mastermind the recovery in years to come. Would that we as a nation had decided to do likewise.