The University and College Union (UCU) said today (26 May) that £600m earmarked for universities working with businesses was little more than a “gimmick” when put alongside the “deep and damaging cuts” that universities will face in the next few years.
The UCU, which represents academic and teaching staff, pointed out that the £600 million being made available through the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) in 2011-2014 represents less than 10 per cent of the money that is being cut from universities’ teaching budgets over the same period of time.
The government has reformed the fund to focus on 98 universities with an established track record of working with business. The union argued that, as one of the key beneficiaries of higher education, business should be forced to meet more of its costs.
“We need proper sustained investment in our universities, not gimmicks,” insisted UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt. She said that the government’s announcement “reminds us just how deep and damaging the cuts to higher education funding are”.
Hunt added, “Some universities do have a good track record of working with business and that should be encouraged”.
But she continued, “Business certainly has a track record of benefiting from higher education through links with universities, research and the pool of talented graduates that enter the job market each year. It is high time that business made a greater contribution towards the costs of university.”
The government's cuts to higher education, along with the trebling of the limit on tuition fees, has also been criticised by the National Union of Students, the Student Christian Movement and most students' unions.