Saturday, 18 April 2009

The HE Finance Trap

University funding is on the agenda again.

A recent survey of the UK's 133 Vice-Chancellors has highlighted the 'financial uncertainty' facing higher education establishments, which makes it almost certain that tuition fees will have to rise to £5,000 and possibly as high as £7,000 per year. However Labour Minister for HE, David Lammy MP has ruled out a rise in the cap before the next general election.

The Daily Whinge commented that it is "absolutely criminal that... we are even ‘considering’ raising University Student tuition fees" and described their imposition as a financial 'trap' designed to make young adults subservient to the aims of the state.

Mr Lammy's former shadow and Conservative MP for Reading East Rob Wilson urges fee rises as soon as possible. He also uses the report to provide context to the university funding position justifiable reasoning for the closure of the oversubscribed and profitable School of Health and Social Care at Reading University.

Mr Wilson explains the closure was "based on tight finances rather than the quality of provision... because it costs more to teach social care courses," arguing the necessity of cutting back student places - even on essential training courses for vital services.

He goes on to catalogue a list of bad decisions by universities which he says make tough choices such as regards SHSC inevitable. Bad financial planning with regard to over-generous pay deals and excessive dependency on equity returns has combined with diminished social philanthropy to bring about the current "toxic period" he says.

The perilous financial position of Reading University is exacerbated by it's current plans for a massive development program of its' landholdings in the area, which includes housing, a science park and other debt-financed ventures.

Meanwhile International Studies Abroad (ISA) highlights an alternative way out of the trouble, as it announced it has lowered the price of its forthcoming academic programs in this country (including at the University of Reading). ISA declared,
"as a result of the current global recession, the US Dollar has reached a 23-year high against the British Pound, contributing to a more affordable experience for US students studying abroad in England."
ISA has managed to drop fees for courses at Reading by almost 7% against last year, although the real cost remains more than three times more than UK students will be expected to pay even after review.

Oranjepan asks:
When managers get things wrong, why is it 'inevitable' that they scapegoat those who get things right?

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