'Redundancies are inevitable' Funding for universities in Wales cut by millions

-Credit: (Image: Richard Williams/WalesOnline)
-Credit: (Image: Richard Williams/WalesOnline)

Universities across Wales are to lose millions more in funding. In 2023-24, the amount given to universities via the body which funds higher education in Wales was £220m. That is down to £197m for 2024-25 and will mean all Welsh universities will see a cut in their funding.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw), is the body which funds and regulates higher education in Wales. It is given to universities and other providers to support: research and innovation; part-time provision; full-time undergraduate expensive and higher cost subjects; degree apprenticeships; capital developments; student well-being and health, including mental health; employability; and strategic initiatives in research, innovation and engagement.

Hefcw, which is being dissolved from the end of July with a new commission, called Medr, taking over, receives its money from the Welsh Government. However, universities also receive tuition fee funding. From September 2024, universities in Wales can charge up to £9,250 a year for undergraduate tuition after the Welsh Government brought Welsh figures in line with the other UK nations. International students pay more. Universities can also receive money from grants, and commercial activities.

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The figures in full:

University of South Wales: -£1.1m (-7.6%)

University of Aberystwyth: - £1.1m (-9.5%)

University of Bangor: -£600,000 (-4.6%)

Cardiff University: -£3.6m (-5.2%)

University Wales Trinity St David: -£830,000 (-14.1%)

Swansea University: -£2.3m (-8.4%)

Cardiff Met: -£415,000 (-6%)

Wrexham: -£251,000 (-7%)

Open University in Wales: -£1m (-4.5%)

Welsh universities have already been making large scale redundancies amid financial struggles with vice chancellors warning for some time that cuts were looming, despite the rise in tuition fees announced in February. Cardiff University professor Richard Wyn Jones said these funding reductions mean "more job losses will inevitably follow".

Writing on X, he added: "All Welsh universities are under massive pressure - mainly due the fact that fees have static for a decade and costs have been rising very quickly. So all are cutting costs and shedding jobs through various means - with, I'm afraid, compulsory job losses to follow. Grim."

The body representing the sector, Universities Wales, had already warned there were questions over the long-term sustainability of all universities. A number of universities has been offering staff voluntary redundancy. You can read more about that here.

In a piece for WalesOnline, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of the West of England, Dylan Jones Evans warned of fears about the reliance on international students to plug finances. After a surge in international student recruitment in the last five years, recent changes in visa regulations have seen overseas enrolment in postgraduate-taught courses had decrease by 44%. As that happened, at least 45 universities have announced staff redundancies or course closures.

He called for a review of the funding system. "It is imperative that the new Welsh Government now undertakes an urgent review of the future of our universities and conducts an honest and open debate on whether the Welsh higher education sector is fit for purpose, how it should be organised and funded in the future and, most importantly, does it meet the needs of our nation," he wrote in a piece here.

A Universities Wales spokesperson said: "We note the funding announcement from HEFCW which reflects reductions seen in the Welsh Government 24/25 budget announced earlier this year.

"This reduction comes at a time when Welsh universities are facing some of the most pressing and difficult financial circumstances in recent memory. There is no scope for universities to sustain any further cuts in the near future. Looking ahead to the coming financial year, it is imperative that the 2025-26 budget recognises these challenges. We continue to have productive conversations with Welsh Government on the challenges that we face."

The Welsh Government has been asked to comment.