Government must raise tuition fees to prevent universities from closing, top vice-chancellor claims
- Professor Jenny Higham of St George’s, University of London, raised the concern
- Professor Higham warned higher education institutions are slipping into debt
Universities face closure if the government does not intervene to raise tuition fees, a top vice-chancellor has warned.
Professor Jenny Higham, the first female vice-chancellor of St George’s, University of London, said institutions could be forced to shut their doors for good unless ‘resources’ are raised.
It comes as vice-chancellors across the country call on the Government to review tuition fees amid what they call a ‘perfect storm’ of ‘broken’ funding and the cost of living crisis.
Professor Higham, who is also the policy lead for funding on the Universities UK (UUK) board, warned higher education institutions are slipping into debt.
She added: ‘Closure. That’s the end impact of this.
‘I know [raising fees is] politically difficult, and I understand the issue on students, but we’ve seen the price of bread, the price of milk, it’s costing more.
‘So the price that’s charged is going up and the fact that that hasn’t happened year on year on year has to be tackled or there has to be another subsidy.
‘Either in terms of to help us with our infrastructure or some other form of teaching grants to make up for that deficit.’
Professor Jenny Higham, the first female vice-chancellor of St George’s, University of London (pictured), said institutions could be forced to shut their doors for good unless ‘resources’ are raised
Vice-chancellors have warned the current funding model for UK higher education is ‘broken’.
They have urged the government to review the system of tuition fees, which were capped at £9,000 from 2010 until 2017 and at £9,250 since then.
Professor Chris Husbands, vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, told The Guardian the cap was ‘not the way go for students’.
‘This country has an outstanding university sector and the Government – and opposition – need to… be prepared to take the decisions to keep that,’ he added.
Funding for higher education is forecast to reach its lowest real-terms levels since the 1990s with 32 per cent of English universities reporting a deficit in 2019-20, according to UUK.
University of York vice-chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery said: ‘Inflation is driving up costs in a way that frankly we haven’t seen. Most universities will now be losing money on teaching.
‘It does require us to think of the other income streams that can help us achieve all of our objectives. By far the most significant one of those is international students.
‘One answer could be reflecting the importance of universities to the economy in various ways – you actually put in more public funding and don’t put it all on the individual shoulders.’
Further concerns surround changes to tuition fee loans from September which will see graduates repaying university debts earlier and over 40 years, rather than 30.
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