The election of the present Government abruptly halted, and indeed reversed, the growth in Higher Education which everyone in the profession had become accustomed to over the last twenty years. The policy of charging 'full economic cost' fees to overseas students, the 8 per cent cut in support for universities announced in the last Budget, 'capping the pool' for polytechnics and the more recent cuts in that pool, and the cuts in support for technical colleges and similar bodies which have been forced on local authorities by the budgetary ceilings imposed by central government, will all lead to a reduction in the number of students and to a bigger reduction in the number of staff and in the facilities provided. My impression is that the cuts were meant to fall equally on all sectors of Higher Education, and no one has enough information to judge whether in fact they did so. I shall be concerned here largely with the university sector, because that is the one which I know best: but any planning for the future will have to look at Higher Education (indeed perhaps all post-18 education) as a whole, and not at universities in isolation.
LRB 19 November 1981 | PDF Download