UCU criticises government for cuts that will lead to 11,000 fewer students


English universities will see their teaching budgets slashed by a third this academic year (2012/13) and there will be 11,000 fewer student places available as government cuts to higher education start to bite.

Core teaching funding is being cut by 34%, from £3.6bn in 2011/12 to £2.4bn in 2012/13, according to details released today by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Although students will have to pay up to £9,000 fees, as universities try to make up government funding reductions with higher tuition fees, there will be almost 11,000 (3%) fewer student places at universities for first year undergraduates than in 2011/12 (364,325 places in 2011/12, compared to just 353,415 in 2012/13).

The UCU said such radical changes at a time when the number of young people on the dole was at record levels made little sense. The union warned that as more government money disappears over the next few years, we risk creating a university system where access to certain courses is based on wealth, rather than talent.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “At a time when record numbers of people are out of work, the government should be making it easier for people to access education. Axing grants for college students, tripling university fees and slashing teaching budgets and student places is exactly what the government should not be doing.

“We have real concerns that many bright students will be put off applying to the most expensive courses because of cost. This policy – at a time when government is giving tax breaks to big business and the highest earners, coupled with the uncomfortable cash-for-access row – does little to squash the view that this Tory-led coalition is the party of the rich for the rich.”

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