Welsh universities and colleges will suffer cuts amounting to more than Pounds 300 per student over the next three years, under spending plans announced by the Government this week, writes Tony Tysome.
The Welsh Office echoed the budget settlement for English institutions by introducing big cuts in capital funding, and calling on universities and colleges to make up the difference by bringing in more private sector investment.
Though the cuts in Wales are less severe than in England, Welsh Funding Council chief executive John Andrews warned institutions to prepare for "a tightening of belts".
In higher education, capital reductions coupled with efficiency savings will mean an overall real terms cut of Pounds 20 million, or 7 per cent, over three years. Further education colleges are being asked to make real terms efficiency gains of 14 per cent, as their capital funding is reduced by almost a third.
Universities will lose nearly Pounds 10 million by 1998/99 out of Pounds 24 million available this year for buildings and equipment, while recurrent funding will grow by about Pounds 11 million from Pounds 9 million.
The funding council said that total recurrent funding of Pounds 285 million next year amounted to a 2 per cent drop in the real unit of resource. Higher education student numbers will be held at around 65,000 full-time equivalents, and tuition fees have been frozen for next year.
In further education, capital funding will fall from Pounds 16 million this year to Pounds 10 million in 1998/99, while recurrent cash will grow from Pounds 154 million to Pounds 162 million against a growth in student numbers from 53,500 FTEs to 60,900 FTEs, bringing cuts in the real unit of resource of 4.4 per cent, 4.4 per cent and 6.1 per cent over the next three years. Professor Andrews said many institutions would face "serious decisions on efficiency gains and effectiveness" as a result of the cuts.
A spokeswoman for the funding councils said the settlement for FE was of particular concern "because so many of the most important developments in FE require intensive teaching and learning support".