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Students back bailout plans for struggling universities

While most students (83%) are confident their university is in rude financial health, over three-quarters (77%) believe the government should step in if their institution were threatened with closure, according to a report released by Hepi today (7 Mar) Students back bailouts: Students’ views on the financial health of universities.

Nearly all students (97%) said they wanted to know if their university is in financial difficulty and most (84%) said they would have been less likely to have applied to their university if they had known it was in financial difficulty.

The findings, from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), highlight the difference between the guarantees students want in the event of a university threatened with closure and what the regulator has said it will do. In November the Office for Students (OfS) chair Sir Michael Barber said the OfS would not bail out universities in financial difficulty.

Responding to the report, the University and College Union (UCU) said universities are often one of the key employers in the area and their impact on the local economy was difficult to overstate. The union has previously written about the impact of a university allowed to go bust.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said:

‘It is really encouraging that students want to see proper support for universities and, once again, we find staff and students on one side defending higher education. The OfS precipitating the demise of their local institution is not protecting students’ interests, quite the opposite.

‘Allowing a university go to the wall has consequences far beyond just education – universities are often one of the key employers in the area and their impact on the local economy is difficult to overstate. The true cost of closure would be graduates holding degrees from a defunct institution, thousands of students unable to complete their course and the very real threat of all sorts of legal action.’

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