Loughborough v-c: raise or scrap fee cap to better fund learning resources

Survey finds one in five heads of IT and library services facing a budget cut this year

December 29, 2015
Hand placing a tablet on a library bookshelf

Only one in 20 universities can afford all the IT and library resources that it needs, a study suggests, prompting calls from a vice-chancellor for the fee cap to be "raised or removed".

A survey of 100 heads of IT and library services in UK higher education, conducted by IT provider Eduserv, found that 20 per cent of respondents said that their department’s budget had been cut for 2015-16.

Another 48 per cent said their budget was staying the same, despite rising costs and inflation.

Consequently, just 6 per cent of respondents said that their institution could afford all the IT and library resources that it needed to support teaching and learning.

Quoted in the report, Bob Allison, vice-chancellor of Loughborough University, described the limited budget for learning resources as a “very significant issue”.

“There’s not enough money to support the provision of all the student learning resources we would ideally want to provide,” Professor Allison said. “I think the cap on tuition fees needs to be raised or removed to support institutions’ provision of learning resources.”

In the survey, 90 per cent of respondents said that students expected round-the-clock access to learning resources, while 78 per cent felt that the availability of learning resources influenced perceptions of the university as a good place to study.

But only 37 per cent said that students preferred online-only access to all the resources that they needed.


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Reader's comments (1)

HE institutions should abandon their obsession with Microsoft and be innovative: move to OpenSource, which would (a) commit to the Cabinet Office agenda and (b) correspond with all those national educational systems throughout the world which have advanced Linux-based HE (and other educational) systems. 'Nobody ever got sacked for procuring Microsoft' - well, those days are passing. The second point is that VCs consistently resort to this mantra of higher fees to 'enhance the student experience'. Have they done any market or consumer research on this issue? What further enhancements would undergrads like? Or would they prefer the stability of fees and not this constant dumping of public debt to private debt? Why don't VCs look for more innovative ways of managing the resources which are now available to them?