Ben HaywardAugust 7th
2019

Universities are likely to face severe financial consequences if a proposed cut in tuition fees goes ahead, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has warned.

The warning comes after a government-commissioned review called for a cut in tuition fees to £7,500 per year, however reduced tuition fees, the loss of EU grants and post-Brexit visa difficulties for academics all pose a threat to university research in the UK, reports the Independent. 

The cross-party group of peers claims any loss in tuition-fee income would force universities to reduce the amount of resources required for vital research.

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Committee chair, Lord Patel, said consequences for the UK ‘will be devastating’ if the country falls behind in its funding for academic research, and that the recent review of post-18 education and funding did not consider research funding while recommending the tuition fee cut.

Lord Patel said: “It has made recommendations which, if implemented, could prove harmful to the already challenging ecosystem of university funding. A university’s core operational activities of teaching and research are both loss-making activities already, and any shortfall in funding would become unmanageable.

“The immediate casualties will likely be widening-participation programmes, student experience, infrastructure maintenance and repair, and the hands-on elements of courses.”

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The committee has called on ministers to ensure the level of funding the UK receives from the EU for research is matched from other sources post Brexit, and also that the government must ensure immigration laws do not hinder the ability of UK universities to recruit and retain scientific staff.

Senior policy analyst at the Russell Group, David Thompson, said: “The threat posed to UK science, research and industry by Theresa May’s review has been wholly under-estimated, but today’s report makes it clear that cutting tuition fees without fully making up the funding shortfall would be a serious mistake from any government.”

A Government spokesperson said: “As part of our ongoing review of Post-18 Education and Funding we will be responding to Philip Augar’s recommendations in due course.

“We have committed an additional £7bn for Research and Development by 2022, the largest increase since records began.”

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