A far cry from crisis

October 11, 2002

Your article "Universities dig in for showdown over targets" ( THES , September 6) reports that the Association of University Teachers has named eight universities that could be "left to go to the wall" because of financial difficulties. The AUT position has been repeated in other newspapers nationally and internationally.

The assertion was based solely on Higher Education Funding Council for England allocations for 2002-03. These indicated that some universities had received a lower-than-inflation increase in Hefce funding. This is a far cry from crisis or closure. Such ill-informed speculation is damaging for recruitment at home and abroad.

It is not possible to derive an accurate picture of financial health by looking at one funding council's allocations for a single year. All eight have diversified their public and private income and are expected to generate surpluses this year, and the question of financial failure does not arise.

Diana Warwick
Chief executive, Universities UK

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