Russell Group analysis based on data from the OfS shows declining funding for undergraduate teaching

19 November 2020

Analysis by the Russell Group of new data from the Office for Students (OfS) – published in today’s i newspaper – shows that the overall income per student received by higher education institutions in England from Government grants and students’ fees is declining.  

OfS data shows that in 2019/20, lab-based subjects, such as chemistry, physics and engineering faced average deficits of £1,848 per year per student, while deficits for medical and dental provision were as much as £2,094 per student. 

Even classroom-based courses, such as those in the social sciences and humanities, now operate at a loss of £974 per student.  

According to the OfS analysis, by 2023-24 overall funding per student will be very similar in real terms to the level it was in 2011-12 before tuition fees were tripled to £9,000.

Commenting, Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:  

“Investing in the talent pipeline for future high-level skills will be critical to the UK’s economic recovery, as well as to provide opportunities for those whose prospects have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“Figures show an ever-widening gap in funding for undergraduate courses, particularly in high-cost subjects such as STEM and medical education. However, even courses in the social sciences and humanities now face significant deficits per student per year as well.

“This puts both the quality of provision and the range of choices available to students at risk, as well as impacting on the ability of the UK to train the next generation of skilled workers, including scientists, engineers, public servants, medics and nurses.

“As the Government sets out its spending plans and responds to the Augar review, we urge it to invest in the future of young people by guaranteeing teaching grants on a per student basis that are at least at their current levels. Creating more sustainable funding for teaching will ensure academic excellence, choice and opportunities for all students.”

This erosion in funding for undergraduate provision takes place at a time when universities are already under significant financial pressure, grappling with the costs of making campuses Covid-secure, delivering a high-quality blended learning experience, and expanding provision of mental health and wellbeing support for students and staff.

It also comes in a year in which high-tariff universities have taken on an additional 12% of students because of centre assessed grades (CAG) being awarded with only 1.4% additional T grant being offered by Government to compensate for this increase.

Get the Russell Group briefing on the new OfS data:

Briefing on OfS teaching grant analysis


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