UUK outlines measures for higher education stability following COVID-19

A package of measures has been proposed by Universities UK to government outlining the actions needed to ensure universities can weather the financial challenges posed by COVID-19.

A paper from Universities UK sent to the Chancellor, Secretaries of State for Education and Business, and to the Ministers for Universities and Science, Research & Innovation, highlights the significant risk that the impact and capacity of higher education could be severely damaged without mitigations and support.

The paper outlines a range of challenges affecting many institutions including losses in relation to accommodation, catering and conference income, additional expenditure to support students learning online, a potential decline in the numbers of international students and a possible increase in undergraduate home student deferrals.

It says that proactive action from institutions and government is needed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic not only on the sector but also the communities and regional economies in which universities are based.

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

“The package of measures we have proposed today will support universities across all four nations of the UK to ensure that they remain able to weather the very serious financial challenges posed by COVID-19. It will help to protect the student interest, to maintain research capacity, to prevent institutions failing and maintain the capacity to play a central role in the recovery of the economy and communities following the crisis.

“Universities have already made a huge contribution to the national effort to fight Covid-19 and moving forward will act collectively and responsibly to promote sector-wide financial stability in these challenging times and help the country to get back on its feet and people to rebuild their lives.”

The specific measures proposed in the UUK paper seek to:

  • Ensure that universities can maintain the UK’s research excellence, capacity and training of PhD students.
  • Provide protection from cuts for courses which help meet the national need for public sector workers (health professions, teaching etc) and provide targeted support for retraining/reskilling for people whose jobs are affected by coronavirus.
  • Deliver transformation funds to support some universities over the next two to three years to significantly reshape to achieve longer-term sustainability and ensure high quality provision of skills to meet economic needs.
  • Ensure applicants for 2020-21 have as much choice as usual about what and where they study. This would include the introduction of a one-year stability measure in the admissions process where institutions in England and Wales would this year be able to recruit UK and EU-domiciled full-time undergraduate students up to the sum of their 2020-2021 total forecast (plus 5% of the intake).
  • Encourage and enable international and EU students to choose to study in the UK as planned.
  • Mitigate immediate losses in income and cashflow and allow universities to keep operating.

The full paper is available to view at: https://universitiesuk.ac.uk/news/Documents/uuk_achieving-stability-higher-education-april-2020.pdf

Detailed analysis of the paper is also available via WonkHE at: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/too-big-to-fail-a-request-for-government-support-for-providers-following-covid-19-2/