"Low end" universities scrabble to survive

Submitted by Matthew on 15 June, 2011 - 12:48

Posh universities will probably not be much hurt by the new £9,000 student tuition fees.

Enough people will take on enough debt to keep them flush.

But universities at the other end of the “market” face worse. London Met University has gone for lower fees and huge cuts in courses, so to “position” itself as a good cheap alternative for a limited range of courses.

Other low-end universities have made a less drastic, but risky, choice to charge high fees. Derby University is 29th of the 30 universities identified to be in serious financial risk by a Universities and Colleges Union survey. It advertises an average fee of £7,400 (standard: £6,995; resource-intensive: £7,495; specialist: £7,995; premium: £9,000).

Elsewhere, Birmingham and Nottingham universities have started a project to merge their back-offices, and I think that move is intended to provide the framework for take-overs of (parts of) other universities in the region.

Derby University’s deans and heads of schools have been travelling hard in recent months, chasing deals in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, or even Libya!

University bosses intend to set up a separate online business with staff on separate contracts, yet to be negotiated.

A lot of this is a desperate search for an El Dorado, pushed with no understanding that effective online learning is actually more costly in terms of tutor support than face-to-face education.

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