AUT counts wider costs of budget cuts

May 10, 1996

About 30,000 jobs are at risk from the cuts to higher education announced in last November's Budget, according to figures sent to the Department for Education and Employment this week by the Association of University Teachers.

In their submission to the 1996 Public Expenditure Survey, the AUT has used a model developed by the University of Strathclyde for the Scottish economy. Applied on a UK wide basis this model indicates that cutting higher education by Pounds 95 million removes Pounds 1 billion from the economy. It calculates that each Pounds 1 of spending on higher education institutions stimulates Pounds 1.75 of output in the local economy and Pounds 1 million of expenditure supports jobs in universities and 21 others in the local economy.

The AUT said that to meet the Government's own target of 33 per cent of young people going in to higher education by the year 2000, an extra 76,000 places needed to be made available every year. At the average current cost of a UK student, this would cost Pounds 373 million per year.

The AUT also criticises Government plans to replace lost spending on capital allocations to universities by the private finance initiative. According to the report about 70 per cent of the Pounds 110 million cut from next year's allocation is irreplaceable by PFI since it refers to furniture, computers, microscopes and overhead projectors rather than income generating building projects.

The AUT said it was "ludicrous" to suggest that savage spending cuts are somehow to do with taking up the slack in the system or the more efficient use of resources or gains from advanced technology. "In order to cope with the huge increase in workload, established staff in higher education are now working longer hours and more intensely than ever before.

"Even this is not enough and so an army of research students, staff on fixed-term contracts and hourly paid part timers being taken on to patch up the holes in service."

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