Funding challenges increase international focus
Vice-chancellors in Britain are united in the view that this is the most challenging time to run a university in modern history. They are fighting to limit the damage of Brexit, which they fear will hit their recruitment and retention of great staff and students, crush vital research collaboration, and remove billions of pounds of funding. They are also wrestling with the likelihood of a major cut to tuition fees, with little hope in the sector that the government will plug the gap.
Last month in the US, Donald Trump proposed significant cuts to higher education funding in his 2020 budget, including reductions to student financial aid, and big cuts to the budgets of the two biggest public funders of research, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. This follows major cuts in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2008-9, after which many universities ramped up their fees considerably.
In the final instalment of our 2VCs discussion series, Anna Fazackerley spoke to Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, and Prof Hugh Brady, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, about enduring cuts and what the current political climate means for universities.
The University of California is a network of research institutions in America’s largest state. It has 10 separate university campuses, nine of which take undergraduates, including Berkeley and the University of California LA (UCLA). It also runs five medical centres and three national science laboratories, and has an operating budget of $36.5bn. Napolitano was the US secretary of homeland security under the former US President, Barack Obama, and has had a distinguished career in politics.
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