To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to engage with (a) small and specialist higher education institutions, (b) institutions that are not members of Universities UK and (c) universities in remote, rural and coastal areas on their financial sustainability as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
4 May 2020
We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented situation and brings significant challenges to the higher education (HE) sector.
My department engages regularly with representative bodies covering all types of HE provider, encompassing all locations, as well as receiving representations in person and by correspondence from individual providers. We continue to work closely with the Office for Students (OfS), as the regulator for the HE sector in England, to ensure that we maintain an up-to-date understanding of the financial risks and implications COVID-19 is bringing to bear on providers.
The OfS has stated that one of its key priorities during the outbreak is to support the financial sustainability of the sector and it has enhanced its monitoring to identify any potential risks. Providers with concerns about their financial viability or sustainability have been encouraged to contact the OfS at the earliest opportunity. The OfS ensures that it keeps the department aware of its current assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 across the whole English HE sector.
My department is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Her Majesty’s Treasury to ensure that we consider the implications across the whole of England arising from COVID-19 related financial sustainability risk in HE.