Concentrating research in a small group of universities would lead to inefficiency, says a leading education economist, writes Huw Richards.
Geraint Johnes, director of Lancaster University's centre for research in the economics of education, argues in the Economic Journal that the ideally cost-efficient number of researching universities would be around 40. "Any less than that and you start to get serious diseconomies of scale," he said. He estimates that such a concentration might, in time, save the system around 7.5 per cent of its cost, around Pounds 600 million.
Dr Johnes found that concentration of certain types of teaching - science, arts, or postgraduate - might produce a system with three fewer universities and save around 30 per cent of current rates.