Today's announcement about government support for universitiesMonday, 04 May 2020
Message from Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort to all colleagues at the University
You may have read this morning about some measures the government has announced to support UK universities deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The measures include:
- a temporary cap on how many students individual universities can recruit;
- bringing forward tuition fee payments for 2020-21 academic year;
- confirmation that we can charge full tuition fees as long as we deliver an excellent education, regardless of the mode of delivery;
- bringing forward £100 million of quality-related (QR) research funding to current academic year;
- visa support for international students;
- confirmation that universities can use existing government support packages.
As they stand, these measures stop short of offering significant new financial support, especially around the guaranteed funding for research that Universities UK had requested. However, they provide clarity around some of the key issues and will help us move forward with our own planning both for the short and the long-term.
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As I said in my briefings last week, COVID-19 has presented the University with the greatest challenges we have faced in our long history. I am grateful to everyone who shared their ideas during the briefings and since then. While we are working from our individual homes across a wide geographical area, our community feels as strong as ever.
Over the past few weeks, colleagues in the University Executive Board (UEB) and the Leadership Group have been working in detail on how we respond to the impact of COVID-19 on our University. These include the short and long-term financial challenges; how the ongoing crisis will impact student recruitment; how will we re-open more parts of our campuses once the government restrictions are eased; and how will we support education and research. You can read updates on some of these areas of activity on the Staff Portal this week.
We have implemented a range of initiatives to save money. Specific controls are now in place on staff recruitment and we are using the government-backed ‘furlough' scheme to temporarily help us manage costs of colleagues who cannot work at the moment. Many of our major capital investment projects have been paused for now and the Heads of Schools and Functions are only prioritising the most critical expenditure. We are also exploring options to raise new income.
The next priority has to be a strong student recruitment for 2020-21 academic year, as it provides us with a clear sense of our student fee income for the next three years. Your support in being able to provide an excellent education for new and returning students is of the essence.
These initiatives will help us manage our costs in the short term but given the lack of significant new support from the UK government, we are likely to need to take some more difficult decisions to manage our finances for the longer-term.
I promise to keep you updated as our plans develop.