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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 13:28 GMT
Young universities fear the worst
lecture
Outlook not so good for new universities
England's youngest universities say some of their number face "severe financial problems" as a result of the funding announced for next year.


A student is for three years - not just for Christmas

Geoffrey Copland
The funding council has announced an overall increase of 6.8%.

But this masks the fact that some institutions' budgets will be cut either in absolute terms or after allowing for inflation.

The "new" universities - the former polytechnics, set up after 1992 - say they are "gravely concerned" about the funding package.

Dr Geoffrey Copland, vice-chancellor of the University of Westminster and chair of the Coalition of Modern Universities, said cuts in support for research were a particular worry.

Research hit

"Today's announcement will see a number of universities facing serious financial and managerial difficulties as funding is cut in real terms, coming on top of many years of 'efficiency gains'.

"Such real funding cuts will damage the base of a number of post-92 institutions," he said.

The recent Research Assessment Exercise - which assesses the quality of university research - had demonstrated "a marked improvement" in both the quality and extent of research in the new universities.

"This remarkable success story, achieved on a funding shoestring over the last 10 years, is now being rewarded by severe cuts in funding," said Dr Copland.

There is not enough money to support all the research, so the funding announcement for next year means the better-performing departments get more. These tend to be in the older, more established universities.

Departments which were rated less highly will see what Dr Copland called a "savage reduction" in their income.

'Deserve better'

"The highly effective seed corn funding of 20m which delivered innovation and high quality research within the post-92 sector has been removed at a stroke," he added.

The loss of these was "a devastating blow" to the universities' future research capability.

There is more money for those institutions which attract students from what are known as "non-traditional" backgrounds, that is, families where no-one has been to university before.

But Dr Copland said such money needed to be sustained.

"A student is for three years - not just for Christmas," he said.

"In the 10 years since the polytechnics were designated universities they have delivered quality in teaching and research and have led the way in widening participation.

"They deserve better than the damaging funding inflicted on many by this announcement."


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See also:

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14 Dec 01 | Education
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Oxbridge research is tops
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New universities catch up
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Oxbridge tops wealth league
21 Jan 02 | Education
University research gets extra 30m
02 Mar 01 | Education
Universities get funding details
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