Director General of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:
“We sincerely hope that this Government recognises the vital role that leading research-intensive universities play in boosting the economy and improving quality of life and does not subject higher education to cuts of the truly alarming magnitude of 25%.
“We have already had our share of cuts. The Russell Group understands the severity of the budget deficit, which is why leading universities are already making significant efficiency savings. While our global competitors pump billions into their universities, the UK cannot afford to make even more cuts to outstanding universities which are crucial to the economic recovery. Russell Group institutions have an annual economic output of £23.5 billion, supporting 237,000 jobs, and bringing in £3 billion of overseas investment each year.
“Further cuts would be hugely damaging, threatening the UK’s status as home to world-leading universities.
“The VAT hike will significantly increase the operating costs of universities, making these tough times even tougher.
“The Chancellor indicated that he understands the particular pressure across the board cuts may have on education; we hope he will recognise that higher education is part of the solution to our fiscal woes.
“We welcome the government’s openness to the proposals from James Dyson on the importance of government-supported ‘blue-skies’ and other research in universities, and on enhancing links between universities and business.
“Now, more than ever, the Browne Review must enable our leading universities to access more funds so they can provide a first-rate teaching experience, support disadvantaged students and compete internationally.”