Credit: Cardiff University

Cardiff University VC says higher education funding is ‘broken’

Newly-appointed boss of Wales’ only Russell Group uni admits international students subsidise home students.

In an interview with the BBC, the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor and President of Cardiff University Wendy Larner emphasised the dire financial situation that UK universities are finding themselves in.

“With our home students, the fees don’t cover the cost of their education, the money we get for our research doesn’t cover the cost of our research,” she told the BBC. The situation is particularly bleak in Wales, where the devolved government has recently reduced its spending on higher education by £6 million.

Larner admitted that international students, who in some cases pay more than three times as much as home students for their education, subsidise the University’s activities.

This comes as the UK Government looks to cut down on the number of international students in the UK, in an attempt to decrease net migration numbers. Newly laid restrictions on student visas are expected to make the UK a less attractive destination for students from overseas, and in turn, lead to lower enrolment and decreased revenue.

A previous analysis from the Russell Group, the association of some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, including the University of Glasgow, has previously pointed out that the subsidy for each home student already ranges from £2,500 in England to up to £7,000 in Scotland.

Universities are now looking out for every pound. In a previous BBC interview, Larner’s predecessor at Cardiff even brought up the £250 difference between Welsh and English tuition fees as an issue, as Wales did not raise tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,250 along England in 2016. The Tab Cardiff estimates this increase would have meant an extra £6mn in revenue for the University since 2016. Additionally, according to a previous Glasgow Guardian analysis, if tuition fees rose with inflation in England they would have reached £12,000 today.

In Scotland, tuition fees are nominally set at £1,820, though that sum is usually covered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), making higher education free.

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