Oxford to focus on postgrads to close £200m funding gap

September 23, 2005

Oxford University this week paved the way for expansion of postgraduate numbers at the expense of undergraduate places as part of a reform package designed to close a £200 million funding gap.

In a draft corporate plan to be published tomorrow, which will go before the Oxford congregation next month, the university spells out the high cost of undergraduate teaching. It says that the annual loss per undergraduate student is between £7,000 and £8,000.

"The introduction of top-up fees and the associated bursary system will reduce the annual loss per home/European Union undergraduate student by only about £1,000," it says.

Total undergraduate admissions declined by about 3 per cent between 2002 and 2003 and declined again in 2004.

The plan states that graduate admissions had been increasing and that this trend is set to continue.

In 2002-03, Oxford had a £28 million deficit in publicly funded teaching - not counting the shortfall in the colleges - and a deficit in publicly funded research of £67.7 million.

The university's financial strategy group has identified a need to raise an additional £100 million a year. But the draft plan suggests that deficit could be far higher. "Other work has suggested that the annual 'vision deficit' is as much as £200 million," the draft plan says.

It notes that Oxford's international competitors have been generating "substantial surpluses" and investing them.

The plan recommends creating "improved systems for appraisal and staff development that are consistent with Oxford's values and institutional structures".

The university has also published proposals for investment of up to £100 million to improve library and information services. This includes the construction of a new depository at Osney Mead, with a capacity for 8.25 million volumes.

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