Sussex Uni considers lowering student fees after losing £10mil in pandemic already

They are considering lowering fees for international students but not UK students

On the 7th April, Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell sent an email to staff at Sussex telling them that the university had already lost £10 million as a result of the pandemic, and predicted a loss of at least £70 million more.

As a means of limiting this loss, Tickell has considered lowering international student fees. Financial advisors for The University of Sussex have told the The Sussex Tab that there is no chance UK students fees will be lowered, even if international fees are decreased.

In his email, Tickell stated: “The Covid-19 pandemic is costing the University millions of pounds.” In the same email, the VC expressed his fears that next year the University may lose up to half its income from international, non-EU, students who were bringing in £70 million worth of the University’s income in 2019.

A spokesperson for the University said that this loss is something predicted months in advance, “we don’t know whether we will be welcoming international students back into Sussex accommodation if they do not travel.” but the University are “going to do everything we can to mitigate how much income we lose next year.”

This weekend Tickell told The Sunday Times an option to help Sussex continue making profit in the next academic year is by offering lower fees to encourage more international students apply. However, a spokesperson from The University of Sussex has denied that this is an official plan, saying this is just “some of the many considerations that Sussex and all universities are having to think very carefully about at this time.

“As soon as any decisions are made they will be shared with students and staff before anyone els. We appreciate these decisions are extremely important to our community.” University of Sussex, finance director, Allan Spencer, has made it clear that there is no point planning ahead for a £70 million loss because whilst it could be as low as £20 million,  it could be as high at £100 million, therefore their planning would be insufficient.

The University has since said that it is unlikely that domestic student fees will be lowered, however, there is understanding that there will be competition for home students who are looking to go into higher education.  Allan Spencer has commented on the university’s financial concerns that they might not be able to occupy all on campus residences and that the pandemic will cause disruption for future A-Level students coming in to study.

The University of Sussex Trade Unions: University and College Union (UCU) and Unite, have launched a campaign called ‘Crisis Justice at Sussex’. This is to support the lowest paid and most vulnerable employees at Sussex University, as they are at risk of being terminated as the University start another period reviewing their current staff. Tickell, leads The University Executive Group who are  implementing cost cutting measures as part of its response to COVID-19. These include reviewing and ending all non-essential casual and temporary contracts, something students and staff have already seen happen in 2019 and earlier this year.

The University of Sussex is in the top 20 per cent of British Higher Education institutions, based on its net cash inflow, the University’s finance director, Allan Spencer, told The Sussex Tab that the University is in a “sound financial position because of the precise planning that goes into University finances.” A total of 64 employees at the University of Sussex in 2018-2019 earned over £100,000  salaries, including VC Adam Tickell whose standard salary is over £300,000 per annum which is over seventeen times the amount of the lowest-paid full-time worker at Sussex, who earns £17,361.

More information about the Crisis Justice at Sussex petition is available on the Sussex UCU website, here.

You can also read the email VC Adam Tickell sent to his staff on 7 April, here.