The report, titled Universities at Risk, published on 8 December by the University and College Union (UCU) is deeply flawed. The report assesses likely financial difficulty or closure by crudely highlighting the level and proportion of public funding and the numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, while crucially ignoring fundamental factors such as profitability, liquidity, student demand and the ability to replace the loss of funding with fees.
It is unacceptable and irresponsible of the UCU to publish this ill-informed report. The University of Winchester, like many of the institutions included on the list, is in strong financial health, is able to demonstrate high quality teaching and research and is continuing to attract high numbers of students. The report has the potential to be deeply damaging to the reputations of the universities identified and therefore their ability to recruit students under next year’s new fee regime.
The University shares UCU’s concern about the removal of HEFCE and TDA funding for large numbers of subjects and the disproportionate effect on particular institutions. However, higher education is about to be transformed by the new fee regime and it will be student demand that will determine the financial health of institutions. The University recognises the scale of the challenges ahead and is well-placed with a strong track record, a distinctive ethos and specialist reputation to compete in the market and ensure its future.