HE bemoans cost of extra students

23 May 02
Universities face soaring costs because they are teaching more students who would not traditionally have gone on to higher education, a study shows.

24 May 2002

The average additional cost of supporting each of these students is £1,680 – equivalent to a premium of 35%, says the study, commissioned by Universities UK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The HEFCE pays universities only up to 10% extra for educating students from groups under-represented in HE.

Last year, a report by the Commons' education and employment select committee recommended this be raised to 20%.

Determining the costs of widening participation, published on May 16, studies the effects of recruiting more students at two universities. The institutions, it says, are paying a 'widening participation subsidy' by diverting money from other budgets.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said the cost constitutes an important part of the £10bn her organisation estimates HE needs over the next three years.

Last month, Universities UK wrote to Education Secretary Estelle Morris, claiming that the HEFCE's recurrent grant allocations for 2002/03 amount to a real-terms cut of 0.72%.

Continued underfunding called into question whether the government would achieve its target of 50% of 18–30 year olds entering HE by 2010, it said.

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