GuildHE responds to plans for £180 million of cuts in higher education


The higher education representative body GuildHE has responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s plans for £180 million of cuts required by the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills.

Alice Hynes, GuildHE’s Chief Executive, said: “Hefce’s decision to reduce this year’s teaching grant by £65 million may help spread the pain of the cuts, but it will present problems to institutions that have already begun approving their budgets if details of how the cuts will fall are not provided very quickly.

“We are pleased to see that there will be no immediate cuts in research funding. Institutions that have worked hard for their successes in the Research Assessment Exercise, including GuildHE members, should not have the rewards for their efforts taken away. But future choices about research funding should seek not only to protect the core, but also to allow islands of excellence to develop further.

“It will also be important to ensure that the 6,000 additional student numbers available next year are allocated strategically using criteria that encourages widening access to higher education, engagement with employers and the professions, the economic importance of certain disciplines, and regional needs.”

David Baker, GuildHE’s Chair and Principal of University College St Mark and St John, said: “Obviously we are concerned about cuts of such magnitude, but under the circumstances we have to be grateful for small mercies such as the fact that we have at least been given advanced warning.

“However, cuts this year are potentially bad news for the quality of the student experience. We are able to rise to the challenge only because our institutions are so well managed. We must ensure that this short-term pain does not turn into longer-term erosion of resources that would prove damaging to the sector.

“The additional student numbers earmarked for next year are a drop in the ocean, especially in light of the current higher demand for places. I would urge the Government to think again about how holding down additional numbers will affect this country’s capacity to develop a skilled workforce and build a knowledge-based economy.”