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HE Taskforce: Understanding the challenges facing universities to provide as much support as possible

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan

The Universities Minister @MichelleDonelan convened a taskforce yesterday (18 Aug) with higher education sector groups, including @UCAS_online, the @OfficeStudents (OfS), @UniversitiesUK, @GuildHE, the @RussellGroup, @UniAlliance, and @Million_Plus.

The National Union of Students have written to Michelle Donelan this morning (19 Aug) to request an invitation to the Higher Education Taskforce to represent the student voice.

The Department for Education is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure capacity issues for certain regulated courses, such as medicine, dentistry and nursing, are addressed and resolved quickly.

The OfS monitors financial sustainability of universities in England, including providers which are at risk of closure as a result of Covid-19. The OfS works closely with providers that have concerns about financial viability and sustainability. Providers with concerns about their financial viability or sustainability have been encouraged to contact the OfS at the earliest opportunity.

In July the department announced a scheme to assess the case for restructuring support where there is a case to do so, including looking at the impact on regional businesses, jobs and local growth.

Full details of the £2.6bn higher education support package were revealed in May 2020.

Following the taskforce meeting, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:

“We are working closely with the higher education sector to understand the challenges facing universities and provide as much support as we can. Today, I led the first meeting of our new taskforce and I will hold meetings every day with the sector to resolve these issues.

“We are supporting universities, including by announcing our intention to remove temporary student number controls and working with them to help them prioritise students and uphold their first choice either this coming year, or as a last resort the following year.

“We announced a package of support for the sector during the pandemic, including bringing forward tuition fee and research funding, and a scheme to assess any restructuring support higher education providers may need.”

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