The Chancellor’s pre-budget report makes grim reading for higher education. The key paragraph notes the following savings:
- “£600 million from higher education and science and research budgets from a combination of changes to student support within existing arrangements; efficiency savings and prioritisation across universities, science and research; some switching of modes of study in higher education; and reductions in budgets that do not support student participation”
This is one of the largest cuts, comparing with “at least £500 million by reducing duplication between organisations and streamlining Arms Length Bodies”, “£300 million by improving energy efficiency across the public sector”, “£350 million of savings from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to be found from central budgets,” or “£140 million from reducing the costs of the senior civil service”.
However, there is no strategic plan for how these cuts will be implemented. Elsewhere, I have argued that we should indeed close many of Britain’s universities, and replace them with more appropriate institutions, but instead of this it appears that those who will have to pay will be future generations of students, who will now have to fork out even higher fees. Perhaps they will see sense, and realise that this is ridiculous. They have plenty of other opportunities to gain good quality higher education for free in other European countries!
It is deeply sad that such cuts have been driven by the perceived need to bail out banks and bankers whose profligacy and greed largely caused the near-collapse of the global financial system. It would, though, be naive to think that taxing bankers in the UK alone will make any difference at all. Only when the greed of finance capitalism is seen for what it really is at a global scale, and people across the world unite to force the introduction of alternative communal banking systems, may we be able truly to escape from such arrogant selfishness.