April 16th, 2020
Universities UK (UUK) has published a paper outlining a proposed sector bailout package, which it frames as a set of measures to enable universities to play a critical role in rebuilding the nation.
Arguing that universities are central to developing skills, knowledge and research – as well as driving regeneration, social mobility and innovation – it proposes a mixture of direct funding, loans and clarifications of wider government measures to get the sector through the crisis.
Signalling potential changes to the shape and size of the sector, its proposals include a transformation fund to support universities over the next two to three years to “reshape and consolidate” through federations and partnerships – or potentially mergers with other higher education institutions, further education colleges or private providers.
And to mitigate the impact on the research base, UUK proposes the government increases QR funding by 100%, increases innovation funding to assist in re-balancing the economy, and is supporting local growth and reskilling.
There are proposals to bring “stability” to undergraduate recruitment. UUK proposes a one-year cap on UK and EU undergraduate recruitment in England and Wales at 2020-2021 numbers plus 5%, along with a guarantee that universities must accept any applicant holding a place as conditional firm that meets the offer requirement. These “student stability” measures would be underpinned by a new sector agreement on fair admissions practices ruling out undue pressure on students, and new rules restricting volume use of unconditional offers.
It also proposes measures on reskilling, through growth in part-time provision and flexible adult learning; the lifting of ELQ restrictions; measures to support retention and progression, particularly for those students from disadvantaged backgrounds; and targeted support for small and specialist institutions.
While the Government has yet to respond to the UUK proposals, our University like most others, will still need to make some serious but achievable savings of 15% to 2020/21 budgets to ensure we can continue to deliver our mission long into the future.
To carry out these savings, we will be expecting budget-holders to make reductions in non-pay spend as far as possible, for example reducing spend on travel, utilities, conferencing, subscriptions and events. You can find out more on Campus News.
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