Statement from the Royal Holloway Press Office:
A Statement by Royal Holloway, University of London on the Proposed Changes to Higher Education Funding
The College and its trade body Universities UK has and continues to lobby Government over the proposed changes to Higher Education funding.
The College and Universities UK have consistently opposed disproportionate cuts in the higher education budget. We believe in the public value of higher education, and the significant returns that higher education makes to the economy and society at large.
Funding cuts threaten widening participation programmes and investment in the student experience. We want to see a long term commitment to public investment in higher education that will increase again once fiscal stability is achieved. We welcome the support given to this campaigning by the NUS and local Students’ Union.
We welcome proposals that seek to widen access to higher education and to further empower students. Progressive elements of the Browne Report will help to widen access through, for example, making loans available to part-time students, something that is currently not available. Recommendations to improvements in the information, advice and guidance that universities provide to prospective students are also welcomed.
Whilst the College makes a modest annual surplus, this is used to invest in infrastructure such as the current projects to extend teaching space in the School of Management and to replace the Drama Studio. Unlike large civic universities and elite colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, Royal Holloway does not have large financial reserves, investments or foundations on which to draw.
Every pound of public funding currently received by the College is needed to maintain the quality of teaching and research. Any reduction will have a serious impact on our future sustainability and will inevitably lead to cuts and deterioration in service.
With the spectre of reductions in public funding, the College is working on ways to grow its income, through better use of facilities by conferences and events outside term-time, fundraising from former students and other donors, offering some of our programmes overseas, distance learning options and a modest growth in international students. Growing this income is not easy as the College operates in a highly competitive market; it already has a very successful conference venue business and some of the highest proportions of international students. We could grow the number of home/EU undergraduates, but the government has placed a cap on the number- something we are also lobbying to have raised.
The proposed scale of funding cuts are unlikely to be compensated by our own growth in income and that is why it is necessary for the Government to devise other channels for funding higher education given a reluctance by any government to fund HE through higher income tax.
The alternative to new forms of HE funding is a massive reduction in student numbers; something that we understand is being seriously considered by ministers.
It would be a mistake for the Government to respond to the need for spending cuts by reducing student numbers. Universities are engines of social mobility and restricting access to higher education would risk denying opportunities to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.