Three Leeds Universities 'at risk'

Two of the three universities in Leeds as well as the city's renowned college of music are financially "at risk" because of deep funding cuts, a shock report claims today.

Leeds Trinity University College and the Leeds College of Music both face a "high level" of financial risk, according to the report by the University and College Union, a union for academics.

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Researchers also predicted that Leeds Metropolitan University faces a "high-medium" financial risk because of the cuts.

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The report will fuel fears that some universities will go bust in the coming years.

The Government's spending review slashed the higher education budget from 7.1bn to 4.2bn by 2014.

All funding for courses in arts, humanities and social sciences is being removed as the Government substitutes financial support from Whitehall with higher tuition fees of up to 9,000 a year.

Only so-called "priority" subjects, like medicine, will continue to receive Government support.

Leeds Metropolitan University is expected to lose 48.3m, Leeds Trinity University College 5.2m and Leeds College of Music 2.4m.

They are regarded as being more vulnerable than the University of Leeds, which is due to lose 47m, because they are more reliant on public funding.

They also have a higher proportion of students from poorer backgrounds - who are more likely to "baulk" at the higher fees - and receive less income from non-EU students' fees.

The UCU report said: "In November, Vince Cable (the Lib Dem Business Secretary) said that a number of universities were essentially broke and should not be propped up by the Government.

"However, no Government minister or vice-chancellor has dared name which institutions they believe will fail or should be allowed to go bust."

In a fresh blow to the coalition Government, a survey of all 57 Lib Dem MPs found just two who said they will vote for with the Government on the fees package when it comes before the Commons tomorrow afternoon.

Some 13 said they will definitely vote against, while another 13 - including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Mr Cable - said they were undecided.

Sixteen MPs would not say which way they intend to vote, 12 did not immediately respond and one will be abroad.

Mr Clegg was last night holding crisis talks in Westminster with his fellow Lib Dem MPs in a last ditch attempt to persuade them to back the plans.

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