Falls in student numbers put universities in crisis.

Faced with a significant fall in student numbers, because of the covid crisis, universities are calling for a government bailout.

Research for the University and College Union  (UCU), based on the intentions of new students, estimates  a £2.5 billion shortfall and 30 000 job losses  The report predicts that universities could lose £1.5bn in international student fees – another study shows I in 8 of Chinese students (there were around 110 000 last academic year)  already cancelling their places,  a similar number ‘unlikely’ to start and only  a third likely  to continue.  The research also estimates a 16% fall in new UK-based students   – resulting in a £600m loss (elsewhere, UCAS found 14 % of an A-level sample considering deferral).

The union claims  over 90 institutions were now in a ‘critical’ financial position. It is usually the post-1994 institutions that have a funding crisis, but this time it is just as likely to be members of the Russell or ‘middle’ universities.  Manchester University (Guardian 25/04) is reported to be facing a £270 million loss and fears an 80% fall in non-EU students.

As the UCU report shows, it is the Russell and established universities that have the largest enrolment of non-EU overseas students  (65% undergrad and 75% post-grad)  and depend the most on their tuition fees – providing around 20% of total income.  Many of these institutions  have also taken advantage of the ‘uncapping’ of student numbers to launch aggressive expansion policies – an accident waiting to happen?


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