Crisis. British universities: lack of funding threatens the quality of teaching

A House of Lords report published this month said: The funding system for British universities is failing. Around thirty institutions lost money in the last academic year and the number of universities in trouble could triple in the beginning of the year. A situation that does not remain without consequences for the quality of teaching, they note The Wall Street Journal.

“Although British universities are still considered the best in the world after American universities, they fall lower in nine of the thirteen criteria assessed the ranking of Times Higher Education, especially with regard to the international reputation of teaching and research.”

Isabelle Cory, 19, is enrolled in biology at the University of York – one of the 24 Russell Group universities considered the best – and is disappointed. Of the six courses she was required to take in her first year, five were taught online, with students often engaging in recorded lectures and rarely having the opportunity to meet with their professors. This year, half of the courses will be held remotely and with a delay.

“To make ends meet, universities are cutting everything from research budgets to faculty salaries to dormitory space – and are increasingly turning to online courses.”explains the American daily, which emphasizes that even the most harmful institutions – such as Cambridge, Oxford, King's College or the University of Birmingham – are not spared.

An impact that goes beyond the UK

The problem lies, according to the Wall Street Journal, Limiting tuition fees paid by UK students. They have only increased once since 2012: in 2017, they rose from £9,000 (€10,390) a year to £9,250 (€10,679) – an increase of 2.8%. If they had kept pace with inflation, they would be just under 14,000 pounds (16,160 euros) today.

Priority will therefore be given to foreign students, whose tuition fees in turn rose to an average of 23,750 pounds (27,422 euros) in 2022 (compared to 18,000 pounds in 2017). The proportion of international undergraduate students at Russell Group universities has increased from 16% five years ago to 25.6% today.

However, if the government does not decide to intervene, even the most prestigious institutions risk falling into a difficult financial situation, which would lead to a further deterioration in the quality of teaching and research, many officials regret.

However, it underlines the Wall Street Journal, the health of UK higher education – “with eleven universities among the hundred best in the world, three of which are among the ten best” – has an impact “significant” not just on the future of the world's sixth largest economy “but also about the progress of research in the world”.

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