UUK responds to UK government announcement on support package for universities

The government has announced its initial package of support for universities during the Covid-19 crisis.

Drawing on proposals from the universities sector, the package aims to stabilise university admissions this autumn and ensure universities and students are safeguarded at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Key parts of this package include:

  • The Student Loans Company bringing forward £2.6bn of tuition fee payments in the coming academic year to help universities with cashflow
  • A temporary student number cap allowing all universities will be able to recruit full-time undergraduate UK and EU students for 2020/21 up to their forecasts for the next academic year plus an additional 5%
  • The potential for an additional 10,000 places on top of this, 5,000 of which would be ring-fenced for nursing, midwifery and other allied health courses
  • Extended temporary powers for the Office for Students to intervene where actions considered ‘harmful to the sector and students’ are used
  • Bringing forward £100m of quality-related research funding for providers in England into this current academic year
  • The government convening a Group to consider how their International Education Strategy can be updated to respond to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The full package of proposed measures announced is available to view here.

Further engagement

As Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janet Beer, referenced in her previous email to all staff on Friday, 1 May, this is the first announcement made by government in relation to the sector and there is more work to do before next stage. UUK is continuing to engage with government to discuss the package further and what ongoing support the sector may need.

Universities UK President, Professor Julia Buckingham CBE said: “Universities across all four nations of the UK are doing all that they can to manage the impact of Covid-19 on their students, staff, teaching and research, while at the same time making significant contributions to their communities and the national effort to tackle the pandemic.

“The package of interventions outlined today indicates a welcome recognition from government of the central role that universities will play in the recovery of the economy and communities and the urgent need to provide support for universities to weather the severe financial storm created by COVID-19. It is clear the government has listened to the concerns raised and has drawn from the suggestions that the sector has made.

“Universities will want to examine and understand more fully the details of today’s announcement and then work with government to ensure that detailed measures are developed to meet both the scale and diversity of pressures that universities are facing – including further support to protect the strength, capacity and quality of the research base and ensure the sector is positioned to support economic and social recovery through research and innovation”

The full government announcement is available to view at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students