Cuts in Funding Increase Pressure on Universities ; EDUCATION: Academics Angered by Schools Inspector's Criticism of `Fashionable' Courses as Cash Squeeze Threatens to Provoke Staffing Crisis
Russell, Ben, The Independent (London, England)
UNIVERSITIES COULD face financial problems because of funding cuts next year, the higher education funding body warned yesterday.
Sir Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said the real-term cuts would give some universities difficulties in recruiting and keeping staff. Those would be aggravated by pressure to give academics a pay rise above the inflation rate.
"Given the cost pressures on universities, for some, this will be quite difficult," he said.
He issued the warning as the council published its grant allocations to 133 English universities and colleges.
The teaching and research grants are worth a total of pounds 4.38bn for the next academic year. That represents a cash increase of about 1.5 per cent, but a fall of 1 per cent assuming an inflation rate of 2.5 per cent. The package includes funding for an extra 37,000 students next year - enough, Sir Brian insisted, to keep universities on course to meet government targets for an extra 700,000 university and college students by 2002.
Sir Brian declined to comment on whether cuts would increase pressure for top-up fees. The Russell Group of leading research universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, have commissioned economists to draw up plans for differential fees, due to be published in the summer.
Universities are already having difficulties recruiting staff and preventing a "brain drain" of graduates to industry and universities overseas. …