Autumn Statement 2013

05 December 2013

Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“We have always said that quality higher education should be prioritised over quantity, especially in times of limited funding. We are therefore concerned that the Government has chosen to put additional taxpayers’ money into growing student numbers so substantially.

“The Government has said additional student numbers will be paid for through the sale of student loans but only time will tell if this sale will fully meet the costs of this expansion.

“Providing higher education for everyone who wants it will require substantial long-term contributions from public funding and will present challenges for any future government that is unwilling or unable to continue to fund this. 

“Good teaching requires proper levels of investment and we are not yet convinced the Government can deliver on its promise that the quality of provision will not suffer with such a significant expansion of numbers.

“The Chancellor’s commitment for extra funding for vital high-cost subjects such as science, technology and engineering (STEM) is good news. But it is important that this money is for investment in existing STEM places and not simply new provision. These subjects are currently under-funded and we have a high proportion of students in these disciplines at our universities.

“However, it is vital the announcement of further reductions to the BIS budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16 does not lead to reductions in funding to universities for research, which pays long-term dividends for the economy. We are still waiting to hear how cuts announced in the 2013 Spending Review will be implemented, given it also included substantial cuts to HEFCE funding.”

Policy area

Related case studies