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Oxford Head Warns That University Cuts Could Lose Talent To Overseas Schools

by Jim ONeil on October 7, 2011

in student finance

Andrew Hamilton is the vice chancellor of Oxford University and he is worried for the UK. He believes that unless the government allocates more money to research funding, the region could lose its best students and academics to overseas competitors. The government recently reduced funding to universities, leading the UK to start “treading water,” according to Mr. Hamilton.

According to the professor, the U.S. and China have increased public spending on higher education. Within the last year in the UK, the portion of GDP spent on universities declined from 1.3 to 1.2 percent. At his annual speech on Tuesday, Mr. Hamilton explained that other governments are increasing their investment in the higher education sector with an eye on research.

To compare, while Oxford receives 40 percent of its research income from the government, Harvard gets 80 percent from the U.S. government. China is making a multibillion-pound investment to create 100 top universities within this century. Mr. Hamilton encouraged UK ministers to be patient because it can take many years to reap the benefits of research.

Another issue Mr. Hamilton focused on was the lack of funding for graduate students. Doctoral students abroad receive “five-star packages” from other universities, he said. Only half of all Oxford postgraduates, on average, receive full scholarships. This leads them to take out loans bank and privately provided to fund their rather expensive education. In extreme cases, some of the best graduate students must turn down offers to study at Oxford.

Research cuts could deprive doctoral students from low and average income households of an opportunity to further their research. In some fields, a master’s or doctoral degree is now required, making the situation more unfair. Mr. Hamilton fears that if the “competitive disadvantage in funding” goes unaddressed, higher education in the UK will lose its best academics and students to international competition.

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