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Lords Report Condemns Tuition Fee Cut

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

A Lords committee has concluded that a reduction in tuition fees for students in England would have severe consequences for universities.

Ministers are considering proposals put forward as part of the Augar review that suggested the maximum universities can charge for annual tuition fees should be capped at £7,500 per year, rather than the current £9,250.

However, a report by the House of Lords science and technology committee said the recommendation should only be implemented if the government was willing to fully compensate universities with additional teaching grants.

Without such grants, the report said institutions would be forced to take money away from research to subsidise teaching.

The report highlighted a long-term deficit in research funding. It said quality-related (QR) funding, which forms the backbone of research funding for universities, had fallen 12.8% in real terms since 2010 and said the government should commit to increasing QR funding each year by at least the rate of inflation.

The committee's chair, Narendra Patel, said: "The Augar review has completely missed the mark by not considering research funding in its review. By ignoring research and cross-subsidies, it has made recommendations which, if implemented, could prove harmful to the already challenging ecosystem of university funding."

The report went on to suggest that any additional shortfall in funding would lead to an unmanageable situation for many universities.

It is reported that last year nearly one in four universities in England reported a deficit, up from 32 in 2017-18 and 24 in 2015-16.

In response a government spokesperson said: "As part of our ongoing review of post-18 education and funding we will be responding to Philip Augar's recommendations in due course. We have committed an additional £7bn for research and development by 2022, the largest increase since records began."