UK universities seek state bailout amid Covid-19

UK Universities fear a reduction in the £7 bln in fees from overseas students, as students cancel admissions for Autumn 2020. The university sector has already lost £790 mln in cancelled business activities, such as conferences, catering and student accommodation. If the uncertainty about re-opening in Autumn 2020 persists, many domestic students are also likely to defer entry this year. A 100% fall in international students could deny UK higher education £6.9 billion in income.

Some Universities across the UK are in danger of going bust and have requested the state for emergency funding of an extra £2 billion in research funding and to provide emergency loans for universities that faced “significant income losses. “Targeted support” should be available to protect strategically important subjects such as science and medicine, say the industry leaders. They perceive that the corona virus pandemic is likely to cut overseas student numbers and put universities in financial danger.
The Universities are asking for controls on student numbers in each university, to keep fee income at similar levels to last year. Universities are promising to honour any offers already made to students. Universities in England and Wales could be left with too few students to be financially viable- a big risk as they are highly dependent on tuition fee income. There is also a call to push back by a year the point at which European Union students are categorised as overseas students, when they will face higher fees and visa restrictions.

A direct appeal has been made to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and other senior cabinet ministers that “some universities will face financial failure, with severe impacts on their students, staff, local community and [the] regional economy” without “proactive support” from government. Others would come close [to failure] and be forced to reduce provision for students or to significantly scale back research activities and capacity.”
The emergency funding 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. The specific measures proposed by UUK include a 100% increase in quality-related research funding for 2020-21 – which would equate to about £2 billion annual uplift – and that the state funding agencies pay the full economic cost of research, rather than providing about 80% of funding.


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