GuildHE urges government to stand firm on higher education commitment
The higher education representative body GuildHE has urged ministers and funding chiefs to stand by a renewed commitment to protecting and enhancing the quality of teaching and research and sustaining progress in widening participation in HE.
Responding to yesterday’s letter from Education Secretary John Denham outlining how higher education will be affected by the 2009 Budget, Alice Hynes, GuildHE’s Chief Executive, said:
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to give priority to protecting the quality of teaching and research and sustaining efforts to widen participation in the coming year.
“This will be a significant challenge in light of the £180 million in efficiency savings Hefce is being called on to find across recurrent resources for teaching and research in 2010-11. If both of these goals are to be achieved, institutions must be allowed the autonomy and flexibility to help determine how the cuts are made.
“GuildHE considers that its member institutions should be well placed to bid for a significant share of the 10,000 additional student numbers authorised for 2010-11, particularly since many are leading the way on the kind of innovative developments in higher education that the Secretary of State has asked Hefce to prioritise. GuildHE institutions’ strong track record in working closely with employers and professional bodies and helping to create excellent employment opportunities for their graduates sits well with the Secretary of State’s call for funding incentives to grow courses which are most in demand from employers and provides the best prospects for students.
“We are concerned that the Secretary of State has suggested Hefce may wish to seek some savings in the current academic year. Such cuts could prove problematic since institutions have not had the opportunity to plan for them. We are also worried that the letter to Hefce gives no commitment to protecting the unit of funding for teaching. It would be regrettable if all the ground made up in this area over the past few years was lost in order to find short term savings.”
Professor David Baker, GuildHE Chair and Principal of University College Plymouth St Mark and St John, added: “While we welcome the Government’s support for HE and its continuing aspiration to maintain the quality of teaching and research and support widening participation, we are concerned about the level of cuts on the one hand and the expectation of further growth on the other.
“In a time of recession, it is wise to be investing more in education and training, research and development – not less.”