UK student tuition fees alone fail to cover the costs of undergraduate courses at University College London, its rector has revealed, forcing UCL and other universities to depend on international student fees .
Michael Spence, the UCL provost, said no undergraduate course at his university could be funded by a national fee of £ 9,250 per year with UCL having to spend up to an additional £ 90million last year to support education during the pandemic.
UCL recently became the largest traditional university in the UK, with 42,000 students, and celebrates its rise to 9th place in the Guardian University Guide 2022 overall ranking published on Saturday.
Spence, who joined UCL after his previous post as vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, said the English government should not follow Australia in using international student fees to fund universities.
“It’s really important that the UK doesn’t follow the Australian route this way,” Spence said. “Australia digs things in the ground and grows things and has smart people. England has only intelligent people, she has nothing else. It is therefore very important to ensure that innovation and research are protected and encouraged. “
The government is expected to make changes to the funding of higher education in England as part of the comprehensive spending review due to be released next month. Many in the industry are bracing for possible reductions in tuition fees for undergraduates, as well as other restrictions aimed at reducing the number of school leavers who take what the secretary of the school does. Education, Gavin Williamson, considers courses to be “low value.”
Spence said, “We would be exposed to an absolute drop in undergraduate fees. There are no courses at UCL where the undergraduate fee covers the cost of delivering the course. We have just had the calculations done by an independent firm.
“So we are already supporting the education of UK undergraduates with tuition fees for international students and postgraduates. “
Despite the success of distance learning during the pandemic, Spence said UCL needed in-person education to return in the fall. He said, “We are deeply committed to the idea that the university is an embodied community, a place where students learn from each other, as well as from the people who teach them. It has to happen, face to face.
Spence’s arrival as provost coincided with a further expansion at UCL, having enrolled a record number of undergraduates last year, overtaking the University of Manchester as the largest campus, and the construction of a new site, UCL East, near the 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
UCL has also skyrocketed in recent international rankings, including for the quality of research, and is back this year in the top 10 of The Guardian’s guide for undergraduates.
Matt Hiely-Rayner, the statistician who compiled the data, said UCL’s performance reflected its strength in depth, with 22 of its subjects ranked in the nation’s top 10. This year there have been particular improvements in economics, computer science and math, as well as English and politics.
Overall, Oxford retains its top spot nationally, with Cambridge coming in second and replacing the University of St Andrews, which falls to third place.
The effects of the pandemic are reflected in declining student satisfaction at many universities. Respondents to the 2021 National Student Survey expressed deep dissatisfaction with their undergraduate experience, the worst results since the survey began in 2005.
Hiely-Rayner said: “The results for the entire industry in 2021 were appalling. Everything went down on average, but for some institutions it was more like 20 percentage points. There was relatively little good news in all of this. It’s a reflection on how universities have coped with the pandemic. “