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Call for bailout

230k fewer students ‘will cause universities black hole’

Edinburgh University Medical School

Higher education faces financial pressures (pic: Terry Murden)

Universities face a black hole of at least £2.5 billion in fee and grant income for 2020-21 as students both in the UK and around the world defer or abandon their plans to study here, according to new research.

It says this is a result of 230,000 fewer students likely to enter higher education, over half of whom are international students.

That fall in student numbers, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, would translate into a drop in income of around £1.51bn from non-EU students, £350 million from EU students and £612 million from UK students opting to stay away.

The data has emerged in research into the impact of Covid-19, conducted by London Economics for the University and College Union, published by The Guardian.

All 125 universities in the report would suffer substantial falls in income, leaving 91 in a critical financial position where income only just covers expenditure.

Without a package of financial support from the government, the report’s authors estimate that more than 60,000 jobs will be lost, both in universities themselves and in the local economies that surround them.

Many of those jobs would be in places where the local university is one of the the biggest employers.

This report makes the case for the government to offer a guarantee to maintain current levels of funding for institutions, protect jobs and rule out the closure of any college or university.

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