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Universities' performance holds up despite underfunding

Universities UK Media Release, December 18, 2002:

The latest performance indicators (PIs) from HEFCE show that universities have maintained their overall performance despite severe under-funding of higher education (HE). This performance against the odds provides evidence of good management as universities await the outcome of the Governmentís review of HE.

Universities UK notes that in comparison with last year participation figures remain stable, with small improvements in some indicators. While institutions across the sector are working hard to improve access, widening participation is a long-term process. Success is dependent on co-ordinated efforts by all stakeholders, as well as on raising aspirations and attainment at school level. It also relies on sufficient funding to reflect the true costs of recruiting and supporting non-traditional students. Universities UK looks to the Government to deliver on this in January. 

Retention rates have also been maintained overall, and while we acknowledge that there is considerable variation in performance, this yearís PIs confirm that the UK continues to have one of the lowest non-continuation rates in the OECD. 

Universities UK welcomes HEFCEís introduction this year of a new indicator on disability. The sector is fully committed to improving access to university by those with disabilities and this indicator will help higher education institutions (HEIs) to monitor their progress as they work towards this goal.

Universities UK also notes the introduction of location-adjusted benchmarks, which have addressed some of the regional anomalies found in previous indicators, particularly in relation to London and the South-East. 

Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "Higher education is working hard to give students a high quality education and to deliver wide-ranging Government targets. That the sector has maintained performance levels in spite of severe financial constraints and ongoing insecurity is a considerable achievement. The Government wants us to do more; we want to do more, but it canít be done on the cheap. Universities need the funding now to maintain levels of excellence and to deliver widening participation and other key aims for the sector."

December 2002

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Last updated: 20 December 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall

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