Uncapping the Future

A few months ago I wrote a piece here on  my views of how the changes announced in the Autumn Statement might affect universities like ours, specifically the impact of removing the cap on student numbers.

Since then, this has been written about and discussed in detail. Until we get throug hteh next two years of UCAS entry then we can’t draw conclusions completely. In the last week or so, two new articles have appeared on this very subject.

One thing to bear in mind is that the next General Election is not that far away, and over on the wonkhe website, Debbie McVitty suggests:

prudent analysts may be withholding judgement pending confirmation that a future government is ready to stand by this commitment and to source the sustainable flow of funding that would make it a reality

She proposes 4 scenarios, based on ranges of supply and demand for HE places, and concludes that:

A more robust approach would be to consider what interventions will best secure a sustainable pipeline of qualified and informed applicants to higher education (significantly enhanced IAG springs to mind) and how policymakers can identify and share the risks of innovation with higher education providers in order to ensure a meaningful social benefit to increased participation.

Over on the Times Higher websiteBahram Bekhradnia  (president of the Higher Education Policy Institute) writes:

Recently the pages of THE have been filled with more cheerleaders urging the government to go further and faster. My advice to these credulous souls is that they should be careful what they wish for.

He worries that the market in HE that the coalition government has sought to create does not exist – indeed capping numbers, setting a limit on fees and tinkering with core and margin numbers has had little effect in creating a free market.

At first, the coalition government introduced a pseudo-market, involving competition around “highly qualified students”, but that has had a dysfunctional and erratic impact. The complete relaxation of student number controls appears to be a final and desperate attempt to create a market in higher education where there has been none so far.

It is an experiment that is unlikely to succeed. The additional student numbers will have to be paid for. Given that the sale of the student loan book is unlikely to cover the cost, either the funds will be found by the government itself, which is improbable, or students will pay even more, which is possible. Otherwise the additional students will have to be accommodated without a commensurate increase in funding and with negative consequences for quality and standards.

This last point is worth noting – as costs in universities rise, and while the top end of fees is capped then gradually the money available to support teaching and learning will reduce.

For the financially secure institutions which easily recruit their self-identified quota of undergraduate numbers, removing the student number ca may not be a problem: they will have no new entrants into the “market” to compete against, and will  be able to campaign to remove the cap on fees and tackle that contradiction in market philosophy.

Removing the cap on recruitment creates a challenge for those universities who might struggle to recruit in future One outcome might be a further increase in private provision, particularly for low delivery costs subjects, or more delivery of HE through FE and commercial partners. Both of these will create a challenge for some universities. These lower ranked institutions, or those who find to harder to recruit undergraduate numbers, will find themselves more exposed to a market environment, with aggressive competitors who will be prepared to differentiate on price.

In terms of what my university can do to address this challenge, well I’ll return to that in my “we can be better than this” series of blog posts.


Funding for higher education in England for 2014-15

After a long wait, and some “interesting” photos on Twitter, the annual letter from BIS to HEFCE has finally seen the light of dawn, delayed after the unexpected news of changes to student number controls in the Autumn Statement.


From the HEFCE website:

The settlement will mean reductions in HEFCE funding for higher education institutions in 2014-15 and again in 2015-16 beyond those accounted for by the switch to publicly funded tuition fees. The Government has asked HEFCE to deliver the reductions in ways which protect as far as possible high-cost subjects (including STEM), widening participation (which is funded via the HEFCE Student Opportunity allocation), and small and specialist institutions.

Universities UK have commented, saying:

Funding for the Autumn Statement policy announcement, and for science and research more generally, will continue to be protected, while HEFCE has been asked to develop the mechanisms to ensure that cuts in funding don’t translate directly into deterioration of the student experience.

This is not an easy trick to pull off. All parts of the public sector are being asked to deliver more with reduced funding, and the university sector is no exception. The flagship policy of removing the cap on student numbers is the right one – both for individuals and for the economy. But it will be challenging to deliver in the face of continuing restrictions on income and cuts to direct grant funding.


Universities are adapting well to this new policy framework, but navigating the transitional period before a return to growth remains a significant challenge. The risk remains that further cuts will undermine the ability of the sector to continue delivering on important economic and social goals, and the basis for future growth will be eroded. We all have a strong stake in ensuring that situation doesn’t come about

From the actual letter from BIS we see:

“However, in the context of stretched public finances, it has been necessary to make reductions to the indicative recurrent teaching budget for 14-15. Further recurrent savings will be required in 15-16. It is for you to take decisions on how you allocate your budgets. But you should deliver savings in ways that protect as far as possible high cost subjects (including STEM), widening participation and small and specialist institutions”

The details are provided in subsequent appendices.

On social mobility, Appendix 1 states “We therefore want you to bring together funding which supports student retention and success, specifically the Student Opportunity fund and the Access to Learning Fund.”. This meas the removal of the Access to Learning Fund, which provides £37m of grants to the poorest students.

On student experience:

“The Council’s review of public information on higher education should consider whether there are better indicators, such as measures of student engagement, to provide information on what a high quality student experience looks like. We expect the Council to continue to identify improvements through pilot studies over the coming year as well as setting in train longer term improvements for the benefit of future cohorts. The work should include providing students with greater transparency on how institutions use income and how we can maximise the impact of the QAA’s guidance to institutions on publishing staff teaching qualifications, student evaluations, class size and student”.

This seems to link into other working going on to establish performance indicators that can be used across the sector, and possibly an enhanced version of KIS. Our commitment to increasing the numbers of staff with HEA fellowships, or postgaduate teaching qualifications will go some way to satisfying at least one of these requirements. Whether these indicators actually measure student experience, is of course debatable!

On science and research: “The ring fenced settlement for Science and Research resource means that we can continue to support research and related training through to 2015-16 through the Dual Support framework.”

On research excellence, HEFCE are urged to use the outcomes of the REF  “to inform research allocations from 2015 onwards. Increasing Open Access (OA) to research outputs is a key Government objective which should be supported by research assessment methodology and by the QR research funding stream in due course.”

On efficiency (and ignoring for the moment the comments on pay restraint for senior staff)

“There is an onus on institutions to demonstrate that they offer value for the fees students pay. At the same time, there remains a cross Government imperative to ensure that public money is spent efficiently……..drive further and faster improvements in efficiency, for example, considering pension costs and ways to reduce regulatory and bureaucratic burden. Ministers from this Department and HM Treasury have also asked Professor Sir Ian Diamond to carry out a further review of efficiency in Higher Education Institutions. We want the Council to work with Professor Diamond’s review, which aims to produce an interim report in Summer and present final conclusions by February 2015.”

I’m not sure how this statement about efficiency and bureaucracy links to the previous comments on student experience and provision of extra information, which will no doubt provide an added administrative burden for universities. Will we see a recommendation of things that can actually be dropped?

For a last word, let’s move to the Times Higher Education, and this quotation:

Michael Gunn, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University and chair of the university group Million+, described the retention of the student opportunity fund as a “victory for common sense”. But he said it was “still disappointing that the overall grant is being cut”



Scrapping Student Number Controls

In last week’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of he Exchequer made a surprise announcement, that student number controls would be scrapped in 2015-16. While he was still answering questions in the House, I wrote a short blog piece on why this might not be completely good news.

Let me make absolutely clear – opinions expressed in this article (and in the previous one) are personal, and in no way reflect the opinions or decisions of Staffordshire University.

Since I wrote that piece, plenty of other commentators have provided their views, across Twitter, blogs and other more established news outlets. I’ve also received comments via Twitter and even phone calls (how retro) to talk about exactly how serious this is.

Since writing my piece, all of the various mission groups have come out with their reactions, and this is reported in the THE. HEFCE welcomes the change, especially the commitment to STEM subjects; OFFA say it is “excellent news for fair access”; UUK welcomed the news, but cautions of the need for more details about long term sustainability; the Russell Group argue that quality should be prioritised over quantity; Million+ welcome the commitment to mass higher education; University Alliance said that the increase in graduates will enable the UK to meet for skilled graduates, and QAA said this presents an unprecedented opportunity for universities and colleges.

David Willetts writing in “Robbins Revisited” states “analysis suggested that the number of additional qualified applicants who could enter higher education by 2035 will be 460,000 (an increase of about 100,000 on the current level of entrants).”

There is a clear commitment to increasing the number of students in higher education, as it is recognised that there are signification benefits to the economy by having a more educated workforce. In addition, there are a large number of non-market benefits that obtain from higher education, which have an indirect effect on government spending on crime and health for instance.

So with all of that general feeling that this is a good thing (apart from the inevitable Russell Group opinion), why am I, and others still concerned?

As I wrote before, opening up the market, and removing the current controls might remove a degree of protectionism. If numbers going to university are going  to rise (and figures of 60,000 extra students are mooted initially), where will they go? Oxbridge and Russell Group universities will not be increasing their intake massively. To deliver the education that they do, requires fantastic staff student ratios that are supported by high levels of research income, and research to inform their teaching. There is a limited amount of research funding out there to bid for, and equally, there might be a limited number of staff who are capable of generation it. This group are unlikely to take up significant extra numbers

The universities in the middle of the league tables may be best placed If they have used the recent years of easy loans and cheap finance to reinvest in their campuses and facilities, and their overall market offer, They will have risen up the league tables (see Coventry a an example) and they will be desirable enough to be able to expand and take on more undergraduate students. Their greater focus on student experience could mean an attractive offer for full time undergraduate students, and so they will be able to recruit students who might otherwise have gone to the universities lower down the league tables.

And so we come to them. Fishing at the bottom of the pond, and recruiting student with low UCAS tarrifs might be  a risky place to be. Potential students will be able to trade up to the group described above. Equally, there will be a greater challenge from HE in FE provision and from private providers, both of whom can undercut on price, and for whom restrictions will also cease.

Writing in the Financial Times on 5th December 2013, Emran Mian (of the Social Market Foundation) suggests that the “flipside of changes is they will increase pressure on poor-performing universities”.

” Removing the cap on the system overall should mean that any individual university, including new entrants, can recruit without a cap on their growth as well. At the moment, numbers are controlled both at the level of the system as a whole and at each institution. If both caps are removed in 2015-16 this will mean that universities can choose to “go for growth”, providing innovation in their course offerings, improving the student experience or potentially dropping their fees to win students from their competitors.

The flipside of these changes is they are likely to increase very significantly the pressure on poor-performing universities. In a system where supply is constrained and demand exceeds supply by a comfortable margin, everyone can fill their classrooms. Lift the caps and then quality and price start to matter much more.”

And from the Social Market Foundation website:

“Expanding student places makes a lot of economic sense. A third of the increase in labour productivity between 1994 and 2005 was due to higher numbers of graduates in the workforce. By allowing universities to increase recruitment, the Chancellor is encouraging strong, middle-rank universities and new entrants to expand and put pressure on the universities at the bottom. This should mean those universities have to innovate more and offer lower fees.”

So where does this leave us?

Firstly, we need to see the detail from HEFCE on how next years extra places will be allocated in the last year of SNC, but then this university and others will need to have some hard conversations about what we really need to do now, as we could clearly be one of the universities under pressure (remember, this article is based on personal opinions).

Here’s what I would suggest doing immediately:

  • Work as hard as possible to make sure that the university is NOT at the bottom of the league tables, so that we can become a destination university.
  • Make sure that improving student attainment, satisfaction and employability is central to everything that we do.
  • Review our current recruitment planning process – for one year it won’t be worth looking at targets for ABB students an others, and centrally developed targets across faculties. Once the cap is removed there will be no need to allocate numbers to faculties, provided they are able to resource activity. Use the time to develop a recruitment strategy for 2015-16
  • Use management information on portfolio performance more rigorously – if an award produces only 29% of students with good degrees, it damages our league table performance – do we want large numbers of students in that area, or do we need to improve their experience and outcomes?
  • Quality and price are going to matter, we won’t want to reduce price, so how do we drive up quality -we need to make a significant step change?
  • Identify what we have that really is unique – some specialist courses maybe, or 2 year fast track awards?
  • Develop opportunities for recruiting students from growing markets such as the “MINTs” (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey)

This could be the time that the free market really starts to hit higher education. Changes to fees and finance are probably not far away, but there could be a feeding frenzy at the bottom of the market in a very short time. We need to make sure that we are not part of that.

The Autumn Statement and HE

Thursday 5th December saw the release of the autumn statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. With a bit of a surprise in there about student number controls.

After quoting from the 1960 Robbins report, the statement describes how there has been an increased demand of higher skilled workers, and how there is still a salary premium for graduates. Higher education is therefore considered as a good investment for those who wish to pursue it (it might be useful to look at the recent BIS document  where the benefits of HE to both the individual and society, are described as being more than just economic).

A key change then is:

“However, this strong demand for higher education significantly exceeds the supply of
places. This is in part because the numbers of students providers can accept have been tightly
controlled since 2009. This cap acts as a bar to aspiration, as people with the grades to enter
higher education are excluded from doing so. And it also prevents the UK from developing the
highly-skilled workforce demanded in modern economies.
1.202 Autumn Statement 2013 announces that the government will remove the
cap on student numbers at publicly-funded higher education institutions in England
by 2015-16. This will enable institutions to expand their provision to meet demand from an
estimated 60,000 young people a year who have the grades to enter higher education but
cannot currently secure a place. For 2014-15, the government will significantly increase
the cap for HEFCE-funded institutions by 30,000, allowing those institutions that want
to begin expanding straight away to do so, and encouraging competition. To ensure that
institutions provide places in the subjects most needed in the economy, the government will
provide extra funding for STEM students of £50 million per academic year from 2015-16.”

An early response by University Alliance said:

“The announcement of additional student places is excellent news for the students, universities and the UK. This shows that the Government are future focussed and fully recognise the role that graduates and universities play in driving the UK economy towards a more prosperous future.

“These extra places will ensure the UK can meet the need for additional highly skilled graduates helping us meet the demands of the future economy.

“Despite the difficult climate for all young people entering the job market it is still the case that a degree is by far the best route for most individuals. Universities will work hard to help with the transition into employment for all students.”

I think we can expect other similar responses from the other mission groups.

The expansion of student numbers will be funded by the sale of part of the student loan book. The statement goes on to say:

” Freeing higher education institutions from number controls will help improve quality
in the sector by increasing competition and allowing institutions who face strong demand
to expand. To maintain quality in the sector and ensure value for money, the government
will retain number controls at alternative providers in 2014-15 on the basis of their
2012-13 levels. From 2015-16, it will allow student numbers at alternative providers
to be freed in a similar manner as for HEFCE-funded provision. The higher education
sector has an internationally excellent reputation for quality. The government will continue to
closely monitor quality of provision across the sector and reserves the right to reimpose number
controls on institutions that expand their student numbers at the expense of quality”

I do think that the first sentence needs further examination. Firstly, increasing competition will not necessarily raise quality (especially when this is term is not defined). Secondly, many institutions may chose not to increase numbers of undergraduate students, despite rising demand, as they may  not be able, or indeed want to meet that demand.

The converse of course, is not reported in the statement. In encouraging competition, the situation may become more difficult for some universities, who may have relied on recruiting students who were unable to get into more  selective institutions. As the SNC is removed, so is some of the protection that the current regulated market provides. It can be well argued that this is a form of protectionism that a free market should of course not support.

The ability of alternative providers to be freed from number controls also from 2015-16 must present a risk, in terms of the number of loans that the government might need to provide for students at these providers, recognising the impact on BIS finances caused by  the rapid expansion in HNC/HND numbers at these institutions.

What will be interesting now, is how universities will choose to plan or change their student recruitment strategies, and to what extent this statement might impact on strategic plans that were not anticipating a removal of number controls.



Stefan Collini on marketisation of HE

Stefan Collini, (author of “What are Universities For?” in which he challenged the common claim that universities need to show that they help to make money in order to justify getting more money and argued that we must reflect on the different types of institution and the distinctive roles they play) has published an essay in the London Review of Books entitled “Sold Out” which is a review of “Everything for Sale? The Marketisation of UK Higher Education” by Roger Brown, with Helen Carasso and “The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education” by Andrew McGettigan.

This is a fascinating and detailed analysis of the rushed experiment being carried out on the English higher education system, and is timely after the last week’s BIS announcements about removing designation from a number of private colleges, who were otherwise consuming more of the student support budget that originally anticipated.

Collini clearly worries about what has been done in very recent years to UK HE:

“Deep changes in the structure and dominant attitude of contemporary market democracies are everywhere putting pressure on the values that have sustained the ideals of public higher education. Unfortunately, the UK has put itself in charge of the pilot experiment in how to respond to these changes. Other countries are looking on with a mixture of regret and apprehension: regret because the university system in this country has been widely admired for so long, apprehension because they fear similar policies may soon be coming their way. In many parts of the world English higher education is, to change the metaphor, seen less as a useful pilot experiment and more as the canary in the mine.”

He writes about the change in the market, and the desire of government to create a “level playing field” to encourage competition:

“Anyone who thinks the change in 2010 was merely a rise in fees, and that things have settled down and will now carry on much as usual, simply hasn’t been paying attention. This government’s whole strategy for higher education is, in the cliché it so loves to use, to create a level playing field that will enable private providers to compete on equal terms with public universities. The crucial step was taken in the autumn of 2010 with the unprecedented (and till then unannounced) decision to abolish the block grant made to universities to support the costs of teaching – abolish it entirely for Band C and Band D subjects (roughly, arts, humanities and social sciences) and in substantial part for Band A and B subjects (roughly, medicine and the natural sciences). From the point of view of private providers, that change removed a subsidy to established universities which had hitherto rendered private undergraduate fees uncompetitive in the home market. Now that every type of institution offering these subjects is largely dependent on student fees, the way is open to rig the market to drive down the price.”

W can clearly see the effect of one of these changes this week. Reports show a huge unanticipated increased spend by BIS on loans for students of HNCs and HNDs at private providers, with a knock on effect that a numberof private colleges have just lost their designation status to prevent them recruiting further.

Collini also discusses the idea of “reform” as described originally in the Browne report, and says

 “the implication is that there is something wrong with the present arrangements that these changes will put right. And the logic of such reform is to reclassify people as consumers, thereby reducing them to economic agents in a market. The cunning of government propaganda, in higher education as elsewhere, is to pose as the champion of the consumer in order to force through the financialisation and marketisation of more and more areas of life. Who do the student-consumers need assistance against? Who is preventing them from getting what they want and therefore should have? Universities, it seems.”

An interesting analysis follows of the impact of tuition fees – and how a potential student might perceive the difference between £8000 a year and £9000 a year. In terms of paying back teh money, there is little difference that an 18 year old might plan for. However, a rational decision  might be to opt for the institution that might be investing an extra £3000 in their teaching and learning experience. Collini concludes:

Overall, therefore, the price differential is a phantom factor that says more about a university’s confidence than it does either about the value for money of particular courses or (to any great extent) the future financial burdens of the graduate.

And when he considers the rate at which graduates pay back loans, he notes the following:

It will be no surprise if, after a while, there are statistics for graduate repayment rates not just from different universities but from different courses. If a particular course shows a very low repayment rate, why not harness ‘anti-scrounger’ sentiment and cease to treat it as eligible for publicly backed loans? The joke is that a fee system is justified, in coalition rhetoric, as making universities more independent. The reality is that it may provide an alternative lever by which to force ‘market’ judgments on universities in deciding which courses to offer.

This of course is the opposite of that from the recent UUK report on UK HE finance, where it was suggested that “public funds should be used to provide support for those students and courses where investors may not see a return”.  In either scenario there has to be a worry about how some subjects and their students will be funded in a brave new world, if study and learning cannot be reduced to a set of purely economic returns.

It’s a long article, but I recommend reading it – and McGettigan’s book is now on my reading list.

The Funding Challenge for Universities

FundingChallengeForUniversitiesA new publication by Universities UK entitled”The Funding Challenge for Universities” came out last week, with the following chapters and key points.

Chapter 1 The Economic Challenge

Under economic challenge the report reviews the evidence that graduates earn more than those without a degree, and concludes that this is still the case. Although there is evidence that some graduates enter non graduate jobs initially, they rapidly move upwards through organisations to positions where a degree becomes necessary.

The report concludes that even with the growth in the number of graduates, the continuing differential in pay indicates that there is not an over supply of graduates and that with evidence of a future need for more graduate level skills, that there may be scope for the number of graduates to grow further, to support economic growth.

Chapter 2 The Funding Challenge for Universities in England

This chapter reports that between 2005-06 and 2011-12, income to universities rose by 44%, while expenditure rose by 39%. The income has changed from being dominated by HEFCE teaching grant, to being mainly from tuition fees.

At the same time, there has been an increasing reliance on organisations to fund infrastructure improvements from their own reserves, which suggest that should student number controls be lifted , resulting in any increase in enrolments, universities may not be able to fund the capital infrastructure needed to support the student experience.

Reviewing the difference between the number  applicants to university, and the number who accept places, suggests there is still unmet demand which could also support a growth in the number of enrolments.

Chapter 3 The Funding Challenge for the Government

Clearly any increase in the number of students enrolling would lead to an increase in the cost of student loans and an increase in public sector borrowing.

A number of ways to mediate against this are proposed, for instance increasing interest rates, increasing time for repayment, reducing the repayment threshold. The other changes are more macro – reducing other elements of spend by BIS, reducing spend by other government departments, or increasing government income.

Private funding is mentioned at this point.

Chapter 4 Funding Challenge Faced by Other Countries

This chapter looks at funding mechanism in other countries, where growth in tertiary education is happening at the same time as constraint on public resources.

The US, Korea and Hungary are considered in detail.

Chapter 5 Conclusions

The report concludes that there is a need to continue to increase the number of graduates, while recognising that funding challenges exist if quality and competitiveness are to be maintained. Three main factors are identified: increased government funding; reduction in RAB charges; need to acres funding for capital expenditure now to accommodate student numbers in the future.

The amount of private funding in other systems is highlighted, and the report goes on to state that UUK will now be looking at alternative student finance models for England, with the following principles:

  • student number control – that institutions should have autonomy over admissions and selection and thsi shoudl not be dictated to by the funding process
  • no student to be disadvantaged by background
  • public-private finance models – recognition that public funding should be part of the system but should be focused on providing support where the market cannot sustain investor return requirements, eg if the student or course presents an increased level of repayment risk to investors
  • alternative forms of funding – should not constrain other forms of funding or prevent insttutions developing independent models to fund their students
  • system to cover all institutions
  • tuition fees – flexibility to be retained to vary key aspects, eg level of level of fee cap, earning threshold before repayments

 My Comments

A no doubt welcome and realistic paper which is looking at the reality of how we will fund HE in the future, particularly since there is  a recognition of the need to increase further the number gaining degree level qualifications. The report certainly starts to provide some ideas to what Steve Smith described as an avalanche (from an earlier blog post)

“an avalanche really is coming in terms of the costs of student support.

I cannot see that system surviving, and expect any incoming government in 2015 to look again at the student finance system and to try to reduce its costs. Think for a moment about how it might do that, and how that might influence student demand for different types of institutions. To mention just one controversial way to reduce costs, what would be the effect of re-examining the Browne review’s notion of requiring minimum qualifications before students gain access to the loan system?”

There must be some worries here though too though. The paper suggests that extra funding could come from a realignment of BIS or other budgets, or increased government revenue. In the current climate of austerity, that seems unlikely, and the focus is more likely to be around how the student finance system will be able to operate in future.

There is acknowledgement that the fee cap should be able to rise (it cannot stay where it is anyway, as inflation will reduce the real income to universities over time). the question will be whether a raised fee cap would see all institutions again charging the maximum or close to it, or a real market in fees.

The suggestion of allowing different forms of finance is interesting – eg parental support or increased private investment. This does worry me though, particularly in terms of being able to ensure that social mobility of those who do not have access to such funding is not affected.

The suggestion that public funds should be used to provide support for those students and courses where investors may not see a return is equally worrying – will students, particularly those from lower income or risk  and debt averse households be more likely then to be channeled in to the subjects where there is a clearer economic reward, rather than the education that they want.

An area not covered is how we might actually deliver undergraduate education. The implication in the reports is that any growth in numbers needs to be matched with a growth in capital investment and infrastructure. Although this is desirable, there are other things that could be considered. For instance, how can universities use their estate more efficiently? Can fast track degrees allow growth in graduate numbers with a reduced capital requirement? Can clever use of technology reduce the reliance on the physical campus?

I look forward to the next publication in the series.





HEFCE Grant Allocation for 2013-14

HEFCE has announced it’s annual funding allocations for 2013-14. These show the amount of teaching grant, research grant and HEIF income to universities. Full details are on the HEFCE website, and there is a related article in the Higher.

From the Times Higher article:

“The drop in total grant is explained by the fact that in 2013-14, another cohort of “old regime” students part-funded by direct teaching grant will have graduated, to be replaced by more “new regime” students for whom funding is largely routed via tuition fees.

Universities with a greater number of longer courses (and therefore more old regime students), high-cost subjects (where teaching grant remains in place) and higher levels of research funding are experiencing gentler declines in their direct funding.

Institutions without those characteristics are being hit by bigger reductions, including Leeds Metropolitan University (down 41.2 per cent for 2013-14) and the University of Sunderland (a decline of 40 per cent).”

The decrease in grant for Staffordshire is 32.9% – a fairly high figure, but to be expected with our lower levels of research funding, fewer high cost subjects and few longer courses.

The table below shows the 40 universities with the biggest reductions in recurrent grant.

Institution % Change in funding total recurrent grant
Teesside University -42.6 20,947,116
Leeds Metropolitan University -41.2 25,817,591
Arts University Bournemouth -41.1 3,893,998
Leeds College of Art -40.7 1,697,118
University of Cumbria -40.6 6,984,019
University of Sunderland -40 15,041,844
University for the Creative Arts -39 9,256,743
Newman University -38.6 2,471,293
York St John University -37 4,628,242
Plymouth University -36.8 39,609,200
Edge Hill University -36.6 11,216,315
Bishop Grosseteste University -36.4 1,795,158
The Open University -36.2 97,160,114
University Campus Suffolk -36.2 5,718,356
Leeds Trinity University -36.2 2,439,040
Canterbury Christ Church University -35.9 13,401,169
University of Worcester -35.6 8,187,428
University of Huddersfield -35 23,819,611
Bath Spa University -34.6 8,273,674
University College Birmingham -34.6 5,430,213
University of Greenwich -34.5 28,250,751
University of West London -34.5 10,919,907
University of Winchester -34 5,198,710
Liverpool Hope University -33.5 7,319,021
University of the West of England -32.9 30,209,293
Staffordshire University -32.9 24,109,001
University of Lincoln -32.8 17,494,694
Northumbria University -32.6 29,730,689
University of Chichester -32.6 5,764,359
Birmingham City University -32.5 20,510,786
Bucks New University -32.4 9,370,584
University of Bedfordshire -32.1 15,425,311
Norwich University of the Arts -32.1 3,195,243
University of Derby -31.8 18,815,636
University of Bolton -31.6 9,355,420
University of Northampton -31.1 12,616,610
University of Wolverhampton -30.9 24,897,161
University of Westminster -30.5 28,604,300
University of Chester -30.5 13,123,170