Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Invest in Education - No to Cuts: the case for greater state investment in higher education

A report released today offers a fully-costed alternative to the clamour for higher student fees and the savage cuts already hitting universities across the countries hard. The report argues that there is no economic case for student fees or cuts, with the government’s own figures showing that investing in Higher Education is one of the most productive ways of restoring economic growth.

Follow this link to read the full report:

Instead the report “Invest in Education – No to Cuts: the case for greater state investment in Higher Education” calls for a massive increase in state investment in Higher Education and the scrapping of student fees, as these are a deterrent to access to Higher Education. It slams the £1,000m cuts agenda underway in Higher Education as “economically illiterate” as well as “harming the life chances of hundreds of thousands of students who are to be denied university places in the coming years as government cuts are carried out”.

Using the government’s own figures, the report shows that the £23bn spent per year on Higher Education produces a direct economic return of £60bn, arising from a variety of sources including jobs, exports and innovation. That means for every £1 invested in Higher Education, the economy expands by £2.60. Treasury figures show that this increase in economic activity leads to greater tax revenue that not only covers the initial investment but would raise additional money that could be spent on tackling the national deficit or on funding other public services. It is estimated that for every £1 spent on Higher Education the government could get around £1.30 back in taxes within two years.

The report has been organised by Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students' Officer and Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Officer alongside the Free Education Campaign. It follows on from the UCU report launched last month, "Time for a Business Education Tax?" and underlies that a fierce debate about the way forward in Higher Education has opened up ahead of the student fees review which is set to conclude later this year.

The authors accuse the government as well as the NUS leadership of “showing a distinct lack of vision” in not advocating increased state investment to solve university funding gap and instead looking at cuts and charging students more.

Speaking on the release of the report, Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students' Officer:

“In last week’s budget, the government claimed ‘Higher Education is a key priority for growth’. But at the same time it is carrying out unprecedented cuts whilst record student debts are excluding many from even applying to university.

"It is clear that, at this time of economic crisis, cuts in HE will cause further damage to the economy. Instead, we need a massive increase in government investment in Higher Education and to open the sector up by scrapping fees. This would boost the economy in the short term, provide the skills needed for long term growth, and because it is self-financing it would create extra government income to pay off the debt or invest in other public services”

She added: “The government has shown a distinct lack of vision in creating the type of economy and Higher Education system it claims the country needs. Unfortunately many of my colleagues in NUS have shared this short-sightedness. This report shows there is an alternative way forward that would provide a fully-funded modern and free Higher Education system. We are looking forward to working with student unions, MPs, academics and the wider education sector to try to make this a reality.”

Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Officer said:

“Far from the image that some try to put forward of Higher Education being about people sitting loftily in their ivory towers, this sector is crucial to reinvigorating the British economy and giving young people the opportunities and job prospects they need.

"Instead of developing this sector, we are seeing students saddled with a lifetime of debt and a brutal cuts agenda which is not only economically illiterate but also harms the life chances of hundreds of thousands of students who are to be denied university places in the coming years.

What’s more these cuts do not add up - many staff will unfairly be thrown onto the scrapheap, costing the tax payer tens of thousands of pounds per employee in benefits and loss of tax intake alone”

Fiona Edwards, Secretary, Free Education Campaign:

“Students will be demanding to know why politicians from all three main parties argue that Britain can’t afford a free system of quality Higher Education when billions are being squandered on the wrong economic priorities such as ID cards, Trident and bailing out bank shareholders. It is time to step up our campaigning for the government to invest in Higher Education and scrap the cuts agenda.”

Keep in touch with the Free Education Campaign - please email

If you would like to support the briefing please complete the your details below.