Chartered ABS statement on Government support for Universities


We welcome the Government's announcement that they are putting measures in place to support universities. The offer to bring forward the payment of student fees will help in the short term and, assuming the academic year starts as normal, September is the best case scenario for this. However, there may be a need to revise this assumption in the coming weeks. Consideration also needs to be given to the practicalities of social distancing when campuses are once again open.

UK business schools, like all parts of universities are putting in place a range of contingency plans for the new academic year and are focused on providing quality education for students, whether online or face-to-face. These plans range from starting the academic year on time as usual, to continuing to deliver online in September, to starting in January.

Allowing for a 5% increase in domestic students is welcome but it will not cover the hole which could be left by international students not arriving or returning to study here. Business schools are particularly vulnerable here as they teach a third of international students studying in the UK’s universities.

The signal that students should not expect a refund of fees for online tuition is a clear signal that Government recognises the true cost of provision online.

The package of £100m research funding will likely have little impact on business school research. Business and management research attracts a 1% share of the total funding for university research, and we can expect, for understandable reasons, a continued focus on STEM research. However, as Professor Robert MacIntosh, Chair of the Chartered ABS, said: “there is a risk of missing an opportunity here by overlooking the importance of research into the economic recovery, the need to specifically respond to organisational, logistical, financial and societal challenges, as well as how to ensure ongoing business resilience, so that our companies can recover and learn from this experience, and be better prepared for future hurdles.”

Professor Robert MacIntosh also commented that “the lack of clarity over the approach in devolved administrations and their consequent ability to mitigate financial consequences is worrying. We look forward to hearing how the devolved Governments intend to act.”