Universities in Wales are facing an unsustainable financial future, says Cardiff Uni VC

There is a concern that teaching quality could suffer as a result

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, has said universities in Wales cannot continue to lose money or else they will face an unsustainable financial future.

According to Riordan, fixed tuition fees, less public money and high inflation rates are all factors contributing to this uncertainty which could lead to job losses, cutbacks and a decrease in teaching quality.

Whilst the Welsh government claims it has invested significantly in universities, Riordan insists that the UK government is continuously prioritising universities in England.

Not only has the government funding for Welsh universities been limited, in Wales tuition fees have been capped at £9,000 per year, with some institutions being closer to £7,000, the Vice-Chancellor says. While this is the case in Wales, in other parts of the UK, students can be charged up to £9,250 for a full-time undergraduate course. Although this makes universities in Wales a more affordable option for many students, it also puts them at a disadvantage in terms of the funding available to deliver high quality learning, according to Riordan.

Analysis from 2019-20 showed that universities contributed over £5 billion to the Welsh economy. Nevertheless, higher education institutions will receive nearly £5 million less funding from the Welsh government in the next financial year.

Whilst Professor Riordan hopes job losses are avoided, he admits the uncertainty of Welsh universities in line with funding cuts may mean that this is not possible to guarantee. He has warned that financial challenges could lead to bigger classes and that different ways of teaching may be a necessary next-step to sustain universities in Wales in the long run.

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