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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 00:13 GMT 01:13 UK
UK universities 'in the red'
lecture room
Universities are struggling to make ends meet, the AUT says
A serious debate on the future of higher education is needed, with figures suggesting nearly half of the UK's universities and colleges of higher education were in debt last year, academics have said.

Research by the Association of University Teachers suggests 44% of higher education institutions were in the red for the year 1999-2000 - a 28% rise on the previous year.

Deficits of more than 5m
Edinburgh 11m
Aberdeen 6.1m
Liverpool John Moores 6.1m
Sunderland 5.8m
Queen Mary 5.5m
Ulster 5m
The AUT says expenditure on staff and teaching has also fallen sharply from 70% of total funding in 1976-77 to 58% in 1999-2000.

The total deficit came in at just under 70m, with Scottish universities accounting for 24.1m of that figure and Northern Ireland 5.8m.

Universities UK, the sector's umbrella body, estimates the incoming government must find at least an extra 900m a year by 2004 if British universities are to compete internationally.

The claim came as the AUT began its annual conference in Scarborough.

'Struggling to compete'

Its general secretary, David Triesman, said many universities were struggling to balance the books and that students and staff were the first to suffer from cutbacks and savings.

"Universities cannot continue to meet the needs of a growing student population unless there is a real drive to invest money in research and teaching," Mr Triesman said.

"UK universities are struggling to compete on the international stage as well as provide new opportunities at home.

"Politicians who believe that university expansion and world class research can be funded without investment in staff appear to be canvassing for support in Narnia rather than the real world."

The chief executive of Universities UK, Diana Warwick said: "We have called on the next government to talk with us about the best way of meeting that shortfall - the status quo is not acceptable".

See also:

24 Jan 01 | UK Education
16 Nov 00 | UK Education
23 Feb 01 | UK Education
26 Jan 01 | UK Education
28 Jun 00 | UK Education
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