Tuition fee cut ‘would force universities to shrink course sizes’

Britain’s leading universities would be forced to reduce student numbers and course sizes if cuts in undergraduate tuition fees are not matched by extra government funding, the Guardian has learned.

Students planning to take English, history or languages appear most at risk of missing out. The Russell Group of research universities said places would be in jeopardy if the government failed to top up funding for teaching classroom-based subjects after cutting tuition fees.

Tim Bradshaw, the Russell Group’s chief executive, said: “The prime minister’s post-18 review looks as though it could settle on a headline-grabbing cut to tuition fees alongside a series of teaching grant top-ups for certain subjects.

“We assume the government will want to show its commitment to fully fund clinical and stem subjects such as medicine and engineering, although experience tells us this can’t be taken for granted.

“Left hanging out to dry could be subjects such as English, history and modern foreign languages. Non-stem courses are studied by around 53% of undergraduates. With their funding slashed, it is inevitable their survival will be put in jeopardy.”

Augur’s report has been delayed for several months, first because of complex changes in accounting rules for student loans recommended by the Office for National Statistics, and more recently because of the government’s preoccupation with Brexit.

About 600 Department for Education staff, including several in senior positions, are said to be seconded to other government departments for Brexit-related reasons.

Outside the Russell Group any uncompensated tuition fee cuts would cause financial difficulties for a number of universities that are already struggling, particularly those that teach mainly classroom-based subjects to undergraduates predominantly from England.

Read the full article Tuition fee cut ‘would force universities to shrink course sizes’

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