In 2017-18, 32 higher education (HE) providers spent more money than they received in income, an increase from 19 providers in 2016-17, analysis by BBC News has found.
The Universities and College Union (UCU) said rising deficits had resulted in cuts to staff and student support.
A spokeswoman for UK Universities, which represents HE providers, said members were successfully managing their finances “despite operating in a challenging and uncertain environment”.
The number of young people entering higher education has been increasing but the number of HE providers recording a deficit has sharply increased.
A deficit means an establishment is spending more money on day-to-day outgoings than it receives in income during a financial year.
Matt Waddup, head of policy and campaigns at the UCU, said universities faced increasing financial pressure because of wage increases, pension costs and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“What we’ve witnessed is universities with the wrong priorities, as they’ve taken on more debt to build new swimming pools and libraries, when students say they want more teachers” said Mr Waddup.
A BBC News analysis of data published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority HESA found:
One in four HE providers in England recorded a financial deficit in 2017-18, compared to one in 10 in 2012-13
In 2017-18, 32 providers in England recorded a financial deficit, totalling £173m
Of those 32 providers, 12 had reduced the number of academic staff they employed over the past three years, with the loss of nearly 900 jobs
Read the full article Number of English universities in financial deficit increases
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