This post is written by Sean Ambler of Workers Power and is taken from the Anti-Cuts Oxford blog, which can be found here: http://oxford.anticuts.com/
Oxford and Oxford Brookes universities face devastating funding cuts to their budgets for the next academic year. Teaching at Oxford will face a 12.16% cut in real terms (9.1% in cash terms), while Brookes will face 3.74% cut in real terms (0.37% in cash terms). This means that there is a shortfall of £8,333,000 for Oxford University teaching funding in real terms which to maintain current standards will have to be found by the university from elsewhere. Brookes’s equivalent figure is £1,141,000. If the universities are unable to find funding for cover this gap the student experience will decrease massively, meaning large class and tutorial sizes, less lectures, and less academic staff time for assisting students individually. For staff this will mean redundancies, pay cuts or freezes (real terms pay cuts) and high workload. For those wanting to enter academia it will mean the possibility of a total or near total hiring freeze by the Universities, meaning many will either join the dole queues or have to switch trades.
The Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE, http://www.hefce.ac.uk) have today released the figures for education funding for academic year 2010-11. Overall the budget has gone up in cash figures slightly by 0.4%, but with inflation running much higher this is actually a severe cut (Consumer Price Index at 3.5% and Retail Price Index at 3.7%, also these are government figures which are known to often underestimate real inflation).
Oxford and Oxford Brookes have both had a slightly higher total funding increase in cash terms than the national average, but this is still a severe cut overall.I will discuss the implications of this later, but first here are the figures and the percentage changes (some worked out by myself using figures from this year compared with the upcoming one).
Teaching 2010-11: £60,195,000
Teaching 2009-10: £66,211,000
Teaching percent CUT: 9.1% in cash terms (12.16% when you include inflation at 3.5%)
Research 2010-11: £126,036,000
Research 2009-10: £119,434,000
Research percent rise: 5.53% in cash terms (a less impressive 1.96% increase when including inflation at 3.5%)
Total 2010-11: £188,131,000
Total 2009-10: £187,450,000
Total change: 0.36% in cash terms increase, 3% in real terms decrease with inflation at 3.5%
Oxford Brookes University:
Teaching 2010-11: £36,384,000
Teaching 2009-10: £36,520,00
Teaching percent CUT: 0.37% in cash terms (3.74% when you include inflation at 3.5%)
Research 2010-11: £4,273,000
Research 2009-10: £4,290,000
Research percent cut: 0.4% in cash terms (3.76% cut when including inflation at 3.5%)
Total 2010-11: £42,556,000
Total 2009-10: £42,516,000
Total change: 0.1% increase in cash terms however this is a 3.29% in real terms cut with inflation at 3.5%
The totals include research and teaching funding, but also other types therefore do not match up. See HEFCE website for more complete figures, although calculations will be required to figure out changes between years.
While surprisingly there has been research increases at Oxford University, the overwhelming trend here is negative and especially on the core teaching which is what students get from universities. The move towards research shows the government see universities as having the role of providing research for business rather than teaching for students.
Students and staff at both universities need to organise to resist these cuts. At both universities it will be possible even without the government altering these figures (which we should also demand) for cuts to be stopped. This also doesn’t require the cap of fees to be lifted as the Oxford Uni administration is pushing for as the money is already there, just misspent. The number of senior managers at both institutions with wages above £100,000 is ridiculous – we’re writing a post on this which will appear soon. If all management that earns these ridiculous sums had a pay cut to £100,000 or better yet £50,000 then it is clear these funding cuts would not be necessary.
These figures mask something however – other sources of funding. Oxford has millionaire and billionaire alumni who donate vast sums to the university, and it’s investments provide large dividends. It can weather the storm if it chooses to. Our job is to make sure it does! But for Brookes the situation is different and while cuts are by no means necessary or inevitable it is less able to weather the storm using other sources of income. We therefore demand that as a matter of emergency the government increase funding to Brookes to prevent the social catastrophe that cuts might cause to the staff and students at the university.
Both universities are likely to attempt to use these funding cuts to reduce staff pay, and Brookes is likely to make cuts (Oxford uni clearly prefers arguing for higher fees while attempting to maintain staffing levels – although may well cut too). The reason for the governments cuts is ultimately the debt they gained by bailing out the bankers. The question therefore is: Who will pay for the crisis? Our answer has to be: Those who caused it, not us! Profitable banks should be nationalised without compensation to pay for those that were bailed out. There should be ban on bonuses to bankers and a strict pay limit including mass reductions for those earning six-figure and higher salaries. Higher tax bands should be increased. This will provide the necessary funds to reduce state debt while still paying for all our current public services including education, without having to raise the cap on tutition fees (which could also be abolished).
Our task is to ensure this happens. Our fight is first with the university management but also with the government – victories on a local level can force the government to raise funding nationally. When cuts are announced we will argue for UCU and UNISON to ballot for strike action and for students to support them. If the universities cut we will raise the question – who decided this? Where is the democracy when unelected management has control over our education? We will take all necessary action, inspired by campaigns at other universities such as Sussex, to prevent cuts and fees and to democratize our universities. In Oxford this means demanding mass congregations open to all staff and students.
We can win! Leeds UCU strike has won the concession of no compulsary redundancies already before the HEFCE figures were even announced! Join the campaign: OCCUPY! STRIKE! RESIST!
All views expressed in this post are by the author and not necessarily the position of the campaign.