Budget 2024: Lack of funding news for Higher Education

8th March 2024
Liam Young

The Chancellor’s speech was full of great optimism for the higher education sector, but from what I have read this morning it appears that industry voices have overwhelmingly expressed disappointment that Jeremy Hunt’s budget offered little relief for the mounting financial pressures facing higher education in England.

While welcoming targeted investments in medical research and development hubs, sector groups have criticised the lack of measures to support students grappling with the cost-of-living crisis or secure the long-term sustainability of university finances.

The response comes as the sector grapples with a perception that degrees are becoming less relevant for careers and life. In the UK, persistent concerns over value for money and graduate employability have strained public confidence, with universities doing all that they can to address these concerns.


To regain trust and relevance, experts argue universities must rethink how they deliver education. This is taking the form of more skills-based credentials integrated into degrees, accelerated program options, greater emphasis on industry placements and research opportunities, and expanded lifelong learning pathways. But sector leaders have responded to the budget with the argument that such innovations require investment at a time when costs are rising faster than revenues.

The Chancellor’s remarks praising Britain’s “most respected universities” and their role in emerging tech hubs was welcomed across the sector, but this optimism was followed up with a call for new funding sources, with some publicly arguing that more institutions may be forced to make deep cuts or even close their doors.

With public trust tenuous and financial strains mounting, the sector faces an inflection point. Modernising for the 21st century economy is a necessity, but achieving that realignment will require sustainable investment and reform from policymakers as well.

It seems that the overwhelming response from the sector is that this budget was a missed opportunity to get ahead of higher education’s looming crisis – it is yet to be seen what more might be offered ahead of this year’s anticipated General Election.

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Categories: Education, Education Recruitment