Under-fire Leeds Universities now face teaching cuts

UNIVERSITIES in Leeds face having almost £9m slashed from their teaching budgets before they start receiving income from increased tuition fees.

The scale of the cuts to the 2011/12 budget came as it emerged that the government is assuming universities will charge average tuition fees of 7,500 a year.

Ministers admit there is a year-long "lag" between the first major funding cuts next April and the introduction of higher fees in 2012.

Universities minister David Willetts yesterday revealed that universities will suffer a 6 per cent cut to their teaching budgets next year.

This will result in the University of Leeds losing 5.1m from its 84.6m teaching budget.

Similarly, Leeds Metropolitan University will have 3.2m slashed from its 54.1m budget. The city's third university – Leeds Trinity University College – stands to lose 313,573.

Mr Willetts said he is urging university vice-chancellors to make "greater efficiencies" and provide "better value for money".

"This is something our universities should be able to live with," he said.

But Labour today warned that jobs at universities will be lost and courses ditched.

The opposition spokesman for higher education, Gareth Thomas, said: "On the basis of conversations I have had with vice-chancellors, it is difficult to see how they could not cut courses and staff."

A government official yesterday admitted that the cuts would be made by "bearing down on overheads in universities and staffing."

The coalition has faced protests across the country over its plans to treble the upper limit of tuition fees to 9,000 and transfer the burden of funding higher education away from the state and onto students.

The teaching grant is to fall from 4.9bn in 2010/11 to 4.6bn and then down to 3.8bn in 2012/13.

A report released by the University and College Union warned that the cuts means Leeds Met faces a "high-medium" financial risk.

Prof Michael Arthur, vice chancellor of the University of Leeds, welcomed the idea of tuition fees as it provided "a sustainable academic and financial future" but he also was concerned about the possibility of a funding shortfall.

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