CBI: Close fail­ing uni­ver­si­ties

Daily Mail - - News - By Sarah Har­ris

FAIL­ING uni­ver­si­ties should be al­lowed to close to free up money for elite in­sti­tu­tions, a lead­ing busi­ness spokesman said last night.

Richard Lam­bert, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try, ad­mit­ted clos­ing or merg­ing the worst-run uni­ver­si­ties would be ‘po­lit­i­cally ex­plo­sive’ but was ‘prob­a­bly eco­nom­i­cally sen­si­ble’.

He pointed to re­search show­ing that mem­bers of the Rus­sell Group of 20 lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties could be re­port­ing deficits of around 12 per cent of rev­enues in three years.

In a speech at Sh­effield Uni­ver­sity, Mr Lam­bert said: ‘Look­ing across the whole uni­ver­sity sys­tem, a small num­ber of in­sti­tu­tions are al­ready in se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty.

‘If fore­casts such as these are even faintly re­al­is­tic, then a large co­hort of uni­ver­si­ties is head­ing into very big trou­ble.’

He said that if the Govern­ment de­cided to carry on fund­ing all in­sti­tu­tions, the best uni­ver­si­ties would ‘pay the price for the in­com­pe­tence of the worst’.

Mr Lam­bert also pro­posed that bet­ter uni­ver­si­ties be al­lowed to raise tu­ition fees – cur­rently £3,225 a year – ‘pro­vided they of­fered full bur­saries to those who couldn’t af­ford to pay the full rate’.

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