University staff have been warned of the threat of funding cuts and potential job loss, in an email sent to all staff by Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan.
In the message revealed to Gair Rhydd, Riordan announced that if the Welsh Assembly Government’s draft budget for 2016/17 goes ahead, university funding from councils will drop from £151 million to £87 million. As a result, Cardiff University could stand to lose £23 million of what has been described as “core income”.
According to the Vice Chancellor, this could potentially lead to “consulting on some very difficult issues such as job losses”.
The news has been attributed by the university to the reluctance of the Welsh Labour party’s decision to defer any decisions about funding for higher education institutions until after the election and the release of the Diamond review. This, in addition to a lack of cross-party consensus on the future of university funding, has led to the draft budget which if used “would plunge universities into crisis with no understanding of what the subsequent solution might be”.
The Welsh Assembly will vote on whether to accept the draft budget on Tuesday, after the decision was moved forward from March.
In the email, Riordan continued by stating: “It is not reasonable to expect universities in Wales to have to deal with cuts of 40% or more to our public funding in one year with no prior warning.”
If no action is taken to prevent the budget, the University will move to talk to campus unions.
The email concluded by stressing the severity of the consequences of the funding cuts, as it was stated that: “The future health, wealth and wellbeing of the people of Wales depend on a strong university sector”.
Talking to Gair Rhydd, Cardiff North Assembly Member Julie Morgan stated that: “I, too, am very concerned about this proposal especially as I studied at Cardiff University and I know that many of my constituents in Cardiff North either work or study in higher education establishments across Cardiff.”
Morgan stated that as a member of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee she has already scrutisned the draft budget and expressed concern and “will certainly be raising my concerns again.”
Her statement continued: “I think it’s really important that people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including people who need to study part-time, get the opportunity of a university education – and I also think that it’s good that students young people from Wales leave university with less debt than their peers from England.”
It was noted that Welsh Labour Government’s budget has been cut by £1.3billion since 2010 as a result of the Conservative Government in Westminster. According to Morgan “that is why there is less money available for the Higher Education budget.”
Gair Rhydd contacted Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone but did not receive a response at the time of print.
The cuts to the education sector have also been criticised by other institutions, including the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) who explained that “many courses would be put at risk.”