CVCP seeks health and safety cash

May 12, 1995

Vice chancellors are bidding for an extra Pounds 350 million in the next public spending round to meet the rising cost of health, safety, and disabled access.

The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals' submission to the 1995 Public Expenditure Survey estimates that compliance with the proposed Fire Precautions (Places at Work) Regulations 1994, due for implementation no later than April 1 1998, will cost the sector Pounds 170 million.

This is in addition to the Pounds 133 million needed to implement a "six pack" of health and safety regulations introduced under the Single European Act of 1987. Of this sum Pounds 90 million is accounted for by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which deal with buildings and infrastructure.

A further Pounds 50 million is sought to improve better disabled access - CVCP estimates that applying proposed access regulations to new buildings would add between 1 and 2 per cent to their cost.

The bids are made in a document which emphasises the maintenance backlog in universities, estimating that the cumulative shortfall for 1994/97 will be Pounds 1,268.9 million. The CVCP said: "Until this backlog of maintenance is cleared it will be much more difficult for universities to manage the rationalisation." A further Pounds 800 million of capital funding is needed for teaching and central resources including libraries. The CVCP also: * reiterates its call for renewed student expansion to take the 18-20 age participation rate to 40 per cent by the year 2000/01. This would create a student body of 1,118,000 full-time and sandwich undergraduates, against the 1,009,000 projected in the last spending round.

* calls for a stabilisation in unit funding, arguing that "a lower unit cost education system and the maintenance of the United Kingdom's reputation for quality are increasingly incompatible".

* restates its complaint about staff pay and calls for funding for early retirement, new blood schemes, and to improve career prospects for research staff.

The Student Loan scheme, under which universities are paid Pounds 4 for each eligibility certificate, is reckoned to cost about Pounds 8 per applicant. Universities should be reimbursed in full rather than subsidising the Student Loans Company's operations, says the CVCP.

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