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Welsh universities criticise funding cut in draft budget

17 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Cardiff University. Picture by Stan Zurek. Bangor University. Picture: Denis Egan. Swansea University picture by SwanseaUni. (CC BY-SA 4.0) Aberystwyth University picture by Tanya Dedyukhina (CC BY 3.0).

The Welsh Government’s draft budget, which was published last week, has been criticised for cutting funding to Universities in Wales.

The Draft Budget for 2023-24 shows the allocation for higher education being reduced to £198.7m, £4.8m lower than the £203.5m in the Draft Budget for 2022/23.

This cut comes against the backdrop of increased funding elsewhere in the UK and with an array of pressures facing universities, including a pay dispute with staff, increased pension costs and trying to fill the gap created by the loss of EU Structural Funds.

In the last funding period between 2014-2021 these had provided around £350m to projects in which universities were lead partners.

The body representing Welsh universities says they are now facing a cliff edge with the loss of this funding from the EU.

Challenges

In response to the publication of the draft budget, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Chair of Universities Wales, said: ”We are disappointed to see that the Draft Budget 2023-24 does not reflect either the financial challenges facing our universities nor does it provide the support needed to ensure that our universities are able to bring investment to Wales and deliver for communities.

“The most recent analysis of university finance shows that fees and grants no longer cover the cost of teaching UK students or the cost of research and innovation activity.

“Both teaching and research, which are crucial to Wales’ future prosperity, are now reliant on international activity.

“At the same time, Welsh universities are having to manage the loss of EU Structural Funds which provided around £50m a year of support to projects that have benefitted people and businesses across Wales.

“Substantial increases to funding elsewhere in the UK present an event greater challenge for our universities as they compete for UK-wide funding. It is crucial that additional funding generated by these increases be used to ensure Welsh universities can operate on a level-playing field.

“Against this backdrop and the cost-of-living crisis, universities are making additional provision for students who do not have access to government support in the same way as other groups. This includes increases in hardship funding and other support packages.

“Wales faces many challenges including achieving net zero, preparing for the impact of technological change on the workforce and addressing the impacts of the cost of living crisis.

“Universities have a key role to play in responding to these challenges. The financial pressures we now face put at risk our ability to respond.”


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Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Perhaps it is time to revisit the concept of One universiity to cover all of Wales and strip down the fiscal burdens of having so many administration functions repeated throughout Wales, being outside academia, the amount of Overseas students being recruited is created undue demands on local housing stock and mirroring the situation with 2nd home. We need to reappraise welsh univeristies to serve welsh students first and formost.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Centralising – which is what the concept of One University amounts to – would not lead to a reduction in administrative burden. Admin is like a parasite it grows regardless of the direction of policy. All the recent regulatory and other wider social policy developments would require a continuing spend on “admin” which often add little or no value to the educational experience. I disagree with the stance on overseas students as the sale of overpriced degree schemes to those students could serve to subsidise the cost of teaching our “native” student stock. At present that extra margin just disappears… Read more »

George Thomas
George Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Part of this is such a bad, bad idea: international students pay so much to come to University in the UK so these Uni’s would be much weaker without them.

Universities lead to higher paying jobs and innovations to help future-proof Wales which are desperately needed.

I’m not sure whether one administration would be worthwhile or not – if it saves money so budget cuts don’t have to happen it might be okay – but big difference between promoting and assisting Welsh education and what you seem to be suggesting.

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Why One university? Why not Two-one to teach through English and the other to teach through Welsh?

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

If Wales voted to do without £50M of EU funding and universities are less than £5M short then I guess the Welsh Government have done pretty well. It is just another benefit of Brexit for those who voted Leave.

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