Birmingham University's response to the cuts could include the imposition of a top-up fee on first-year students from 1997/98.
Gill Allcutt, director of finance, last week informed finance directors of the Russell Group of research universities that: "Following discussions within this university on the financial forecasts, to be submitted to HEFCE, the vice chancellor has agreed that there is a very important message to be sent through them relating to 'top-up fees'. Our forecasts from 1997/98 will include a charge of Pounds 700 first-year student admission."
Following a press leak of the message, Birmingham issued a statement denying that a decision had been taken to introduce top-up fees. It said that fees were one of the contingencies under consideration if the financial position does not improve: "Before any decision could be taken, the matter would have to be agreed by the university council which will consider the budget for 1997/98 next spring."
Sir Michael Thompson, vice chancellor, told The THES it was highly unlikely that a specific amount per student would be included in the final submission to HEFCE, due on June 28. He said his main concern was to maintain the standard of Birmingham's degrees.