January 28th, 2009


University debt

Dear UK academics (and anyone else who has opinions on the subject),

I read that London Met owes over 50 million pounds back to the government because of poor accounting for student completion rates. As a result, it will need to lay off 300+ staff members. Kingston University is also affected. These are both ex-polytechnics, but that doesn't mean only ex-polys will be affected as audits go on.

How realistic is the repayment threat? Are student completion rates (as opposed to student enrollment rates) the entire basis for universities' public funding in the UK England (and possibly Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), or is it more complicated than that?

I know a number of ex-polys (perhaps more) are in poor financial shape. Is this purely a result of overly-optimistic expansion rates after becoming universities, or are there other major factors as well? Is it a problem with universities more widely right now, and I just happen to be more aware of this subset of them? (I'm under the impression that their financial problems are not directly related to the recession, but to other factors.)