United Kingdom

Universities in England Face Mounting Fiscal Pressures

A new report from the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator, paints a concerning picture for the financial health of universities across England, the Guardian reported yesterday.

According to the annual review, a growing number of institutions are at “material risk of closure” unless they make drastic cost-cutting measures or pursue mergers in the coming years.

The OfS analysis found that 40% of England’s universities are projected to run budget deficits in the current academic year. This precarious situation is largely attributed to universities’ over-reliance on international student tuition to offset declining domestic enrollment and frozen home student fees.

OfS Chief Executive Susan Lapworth warned that many universities will need to significantly restructure their funding models to ensure long-term sustainability. “They are taking difficult, but necessary, decisions about the shape and size of their institution,” she said, adding that some are exploring mergers and shared services.

The report’s “reasonable worst-case scenario” projects that four-fifths of universities could be in the red by 2027 if international student numbers drop sharply without commensurate cost reductions.

Experts say the financial pressures, combined with recent visa restrictions for international students, pose an existential threat to the sector.

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