Russell Group response to the Spending Review
20 October 2010
Russell Group Director General Dr Wendy Piatt said:
“The Chancellor is right to say that our universities are the jewels in our economic crown. The UK’s world-class universities perform a vital role as the engine room of economic recovery. We are pleased that the Government appears to have listened to our arguments about the vital importance of research.
“We welcome the fact that the science and research funding is to be spared the depth of cuts that many had feared. The decision to maintain the research budget for the next four years and to ring-fence this funding provides research-intensive universities and their business partners with a much-needed degree of reassurance about the Government’s long-term commitment to science and innovation.
“However, it should not be forgotten that our competitor countries are injecting enormous investment into their universities to kick-start growth. Even with this late reprieve, it will remain extremely challenging for leading UK universities to maintain their world-class status and to keep pace with our competitors.
“Indeed, as the UK’s economic competitiveness becomes increasingly dependent upon high-tech industries and skilled graduates, research-intensive universities will become even more important in tackling complex problems and driving future growth and prosperity.
“We are also concerned about the size of the cuts to rest of the higher education budget. If the UK’s world-class universities are to perform their vital role as the engine room of economic recovery, the Government must allow universities to ask for higher graduate contributions as recommended by Lord Browne. Today’s cuts to the HE budget suggest there is no conceivable ‘Plan B’.
“We are concerned that the cuts will mean it will be tough to maintain the high quality teaching, learning and research environment our universities currently offer, even under the Browne system. Without a system of higher graduate contributions, we will almost certainly be relegated from the premiership of higher education to the third division.”