Vice-Chancellor comments on recent funding announcements and media coverage

Colleagues may have seen the article in this week’s copy of the Bath Chronicle suggesting that we will lose £20 million of public funding for teaching if Government proposals to withdraw funding for non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) undergraduate programmes are implemented. 

Whilst I can confirm that this figure appears consistent with what we have been told so far, we still need further detail from BIS (Department of Business, Innovation & Skills) and HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council) on future funding for taught postgraduate programmes, ongoing public investment in STEM, and changes affecting QR (Quality Research) funding before we have a full picture of the challenges we will face. It is also still unclear how the reductions will be profiled over the next four years.

With such a large planned reduction in public funding, it is critical that universities are given the means to offset the loss. The Government is proposing that the sector should do this by introducing higher graduate contributions. This will require parliamentary assent and there is a commitment to publishing a Higher Education White Paper “in the winter”.

I think it is fair to say that many of us are concerned about the impact that higher graduate contributions may have on demand for higher education, particularly amongst lower income and ‘squeezed’ middle income families. The proposals represent a major change for future students and for universities.

If the proposals are accepted, universities will be challenged to demonstrate that the courses they offer represent value for money at these higher graduate contribution levels. Prospective students will be challenged to have the confidence to invest in their education to improve their future career prospects.

Thanks to our long tradition of providing an excellent student experience and the highest quality education, we are very well-placed to demonstrate the value of our courses.  We already offer prospective students one of the sector’s best profiles for:

  • excellent graduate job prospects;
  • high starting salaries;
  • high completion/success rates. 

I hope that the Higher Education White Paper will provide further reassurance on the funding and participation challenges as we move forward in the coming weeks and months.

I will continue to provide further briefings as the detail emerges.

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