Communication from the Vice-Chancellor October 2010
Message to all staff following Lord Browne recommendations
You will no doubt all be aware that today Lord Browne has released a report recommending that greater responsibility for the funding of Higher Education be transferred from public funds to individual graduates.
In the light of today´s announcements, I would like to reassure you that the University of Sheffield is considering carefully the recommendations of the report by Lord Browne. However, today´s recommendations do not provide the full picture, and we will have to wait until next week´s Comprehensive Spending Review and the details of the anticipated withdrawal of the public funding of Higher Education before we can fully understand the implications for this University and for our students.
We are of course proud of our record of providing a world class educational environment for our staff and students, and are well aware of the challenge of maintaining this. We cannot know for sure until the official Government announcements are made, but we anticipate that this withdrawal of Government funding will be substantial. It will be so great, in fact, that without alternative sources of funding the impact on our universities would be little short of national tragedy.
In the light of the recommendation of the Browne Review and the impact of the CSR, coming to a shared understanding of the level of resources needed to provide the proper environment for students and staff is absolutely critical. We must approach the challenges ahead in ways consistent with our values of excellence and inclusion.
So what do we need to do to develop this shared understanding?
This is already partly underway through the active involvement we have from students in the governance of the University and through our close dialogue with them – indeed I met with the Union of Students this morning and assured them that this would be an ongoing process. Our own planning processes will also consider these issues carefully.
There will be significant national debate on these issues as the details of Lord Browne´s proposals are considered. These will be combined with the announcements about the withdrawal of Higher Education funding which we are expecting as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October, with greater clarity about funding for individual institutions likely to be made available to universities in the new year.
During this period, the University is committed to a thorough analysis of what the proposed changes in all elements of student and university funding will mean for our particular students and the quality education we are all so determined to preserve.
I hope that you will bear with us during a period which will no doubt be challenging for both students and university staff.
Professor Keith Burnett