Welsh universities criticise funding cut in draft budget
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.
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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