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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Paying for higher education

If the latest claims from Finance directors of Welsh universities that the Welsh government's student fees subsidies are leaving their sector with an uncertain financial future does not cause Ministers to change their policy, it should at least give them pause for thought.

The BBC report that Universities can not be sure there will be enough money left for them after the subsidising of Welsh students who study elsewhere in the UK.:

The Welsh Higher Education Finance Directors Group says that no-one knows from year to year how many Welsh students will choose to study in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This has led to financial uncertainty and left universities in a "considerable period of flux".

Universities in Wales see some of their money come from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw).

But the finance directors say there is considerable doubt there is enough money in the pot to pay for the policy of subsidising tuition fees from the Hefcw teaching budget.

They said its core annual funding had dropped 36% over two years from £367m in 2010/11 to £213m in 2012/13.

If the demand exceeds the current assumed budget then they say funding will have to found from one or all of the following:
The finance directors' group said: "It is far too early to determine if any of these measures will be required or to judge which, if any, of these may be applied.

"It is also uncertain as to whether Hefcw/Welsh government can legally apply them or has the appetite to do so.

"This leaves the sector with an uncertain financial future together with the dilemma of being required to control the number of Welsh-domiciled students entering higher education in Wales while no similar control is or can be required of English universities."

The impact of the new regime on university finances has yet to be seen but anything that causes uncertainty in this way cannot be a good thing. The Welsh Government needs to find a more sustainable way of funding this important policy.
How about building up revenues from patent royalties like other universities with lots of patents do? Oh, hang on ... the likes of Swansea University have how many patents?

So there is an additional source of funding if Welsh universities like Swansea finally gets serious about their low issued patent output.

Other research based universities receive tens of millions in patent royalties - from licensing deals.

But in Wales?

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