Report says decision to revoke London Met University visas (pictured) for international students ‘could lead to decline in overseas applications’

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Education unions have criticised ‘a trio of government policies’ for creating financial instability in UK universities.

(Pictured: students protest outside Downing Street against UKBA decision to revoke visas for overseas students. August 2012)

It comes as analysis of funding for higher education shows student enrolment is down more than forecast for this academic year.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England warns the widely-condemned decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence for international students ‘could affect the UK’s reputation and lead to a decline in overseas applications’.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “There is real concern among staff about the substantial drop in student numbers this year and the knock-on effect on universities’ financial stability.

“The government’s decision to introduce an internal market based on A-level grades at the same time as introducing much higher tuition fees have contributed to falling numbers, and some institutions will struggle to deal with the resulting shortfall in their finances.

“Those two policies were then compounded by the decision to revoke London Metropolitan University’s licence to enrol non EU students, which many university staff fear will deter others from coming to study in Britain in years to come.

“At a time when UK universities really need financial stability to contribute to the revival of the economy, they find themselves facing uncertainty because of a trio of ill-thought out policies.”

According to the HEFCE, cuts to public capital funding mean some universities and colleges will need to increase surpluses even beyond those currently achieved to finance future capital investment and maintain their long-term sustainability.

(Graphic: falling level of HEFCE teaching grant – blue blocks – as a portion of sector income compared to student fees and other sources)

It warns that if surpluses do not increase there is a risk that the quality of the infrastructure in the higher education sector will reduce and harm its long-term sustainability.


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