AUT calls for £1.4 billion annual increase

November 30, 2001

The Association of University Teachers' submission to the comprehensive spending review says that meeting government targets will cost of an extra £1.4 billion a year, writes Phil Baty.

The union says an additional 670,000 student places must be created to achieve 50 per cent student participation by 2010. This will cost approaching £400 million a year. Moreover, 5,000 extra lecturers and 1,250 support staff need to be funded by 2005 if current class sizes are to be maintained.

The AUT warns of a devastating staffing crisis because almost half of all lecturers will be eligible for retirement by 2010.

AUT priorities for 2003-04 are:

* £490 million for recommended salary increases

* £323 million for increased student participation, including money ringfenced to increase staffing levels

* £103 million to increase the widening participation postcode premium from 5 per cent to 20 per cent

* £350 million to achieve equal pay

* £475 million for infrastructure These demands will be offset, the AUT says, by savings of about £150 million in the bureaucracy associated with quality assurance and £170 million already pledged for pay.

"There isn't a 'buy now, pay later' option for the government," said AUT president Natalie Fenton. "If (it) wants to increase participation then it needs to start investing in the system immediately. Universities and colleges are already bursting at the seams."

Based on population projections, the AUT said that between now and 2010, 4.83 million people between 18 and 30 will have had to have experienced some form of higher education or be studying to meet the 50 per cent target. This would require 670,00 additional higher education places - an increase of 6 per cent a year.

On the basis of the current ratio of full-time and part-time staff, which is about 75:25, this level of growth would cost £323 million in 2003-04, rising to £378 million in 2005-06.

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