Unis may have to take fewer British students amid tuition fee crisis, say Russell Group VCs

Universities may have to give places to more international students as their fees aren’t capped

UK universities may have to slash the number of British students they take on amid a tuition fee crisis.

Russell Group bosses say that for every home student, they make a loss of £1,750 per year because tuition fees haven’t gone up in accordance with inflation.

The government has pledged that tuition fees will be capped at £9,250 until the academic year 2024-25, by which time the Russell Group claims universities will be losing £4,000 a year on every UK student.

But while home tuition fees are capped, those for international students are not, meaning that the sector may have to start looking abroad for more of its students.

Cardiff University Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan told The Guardian that if universities continue to lose money, “they will have to start reducing the number of home students they take”.

And it’s likely unis will be forced to reduce the number of places for UK students on their most expensive courses such as science, engineering and technology.

“I think the government has a national duty to ensure that it is at least viable for us to teach students from this country,” Riordan adds.

Head of the Russell group and Vice Chancellor of UWE, Professor Steve West, believes that while now isn’t the time for tuition fees to go up, there needs to be a real discussion about how universities are financed. “Education is too important to be a political football,” he said.

Mark Corver is co-founder of dataHE, a group that advises universities on their admission policies. He thinks that unless things change, “some universities may more or less pull out” of providing undergrad degrees to UK-based students.

He said: “We saw with the energy market that if you don’t let the price caps reflect the cost of providing the service, eventually suppliers just shut up shop.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “The government is backing our world-beating universities with £750m extra funding over the next three years. We are boosting the grant rate for students in laboratory-based healthcare and Stem subjects in real terms and increasing the funding for universities to deliver high-cost subjects to £817m.

“The student finance system must be fair for students, universities, and the taxpayer, and it is right that we have frozen tuition fees to reduce the burden of debt on graduates. We expect every university to deliver good quality face to face teaching – which is what students want and deserve.”

Featured image: Shutterstock / Elena Rostunova (edited)

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