‘Too many’ UK universities means some may face closure, warns CBI chief

John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), warns smaller UK universities at the margins may risk closure and calls for more collaboration between universities. This is from the Guardian

Speaking at a Labour Party Conference fringe event on universities and economic growth, sponsored by Bright Britain, Cridland said: “We are probably going to move into a period of consolidation – there are too many universities for our capacity to cope with them being separate.”

He said he couldn’t estimate how many will close, but believes the UK’s capacity is being overstretched which may result in “sensible consolidation”. Closures are also likely to be driven by the challenge of the cost base we are moving into, he added.

“I am not looking to affect the numbers of students,” said Cridland. “I am thinking about whether some are a little bit too small; one or two are particularly vulnerable with falls in foreign students.”

Lord Wilfred Stevenson, a Labour peer standing in on the panel for Shabana Mahmood, the party’s shadow universities and science minister, said although consolidation is “possibly quite likely”, it would be “very sad if it was caused by an imperfect market following a theory which I think is not credited”.

According to Cridland, it’s the universities at the margins that are most at risk. He suggests adopting a similar model being used in school education, which could see stronger universities working to support those institutions that are stuggling in another part of town.

“You could see in some parts of the country a great collaboration between institutions to share some overheads in order that more money could be spent where it really needs to be spent, which is with students,” said Cridland.

During the discussion, he also said universities would benefit from creating a specialism so that they can work on being the best in a certain field. He added: “The business community wants to know what each institution really stands for.”…

More at:  ‘Too many’ UK universities means some may face closure, warns CBI chief

What do you think of John Cridland’s comments? Do you agree that there are too many universities at the moment, and that universities should become more specialist? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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