To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the change in the level of financial reserves for UK universities and other Higher Education institutions between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2021.
5 January 2022
The Office for Students (OfS) are responsible for monitoring provider financial sustainability of the higher education sector in England.
I and my officials work closely with the OfS and various parties including a variety of universities across the sector, mission groups and other government departments to understand the ongoing impacts and changing landscape of financial sustainability in the sector.
In December 2021 the OfS published the ‘English higher education 2021: The Office for Students annual review report’ which shows that despite the many operational and financial challenges arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, the overall financial position of universities, colleges and other providers registered with the OfS across the higher education sector has remained sound over the course of the last year, with generally reasonable financial resilience.
Providers were able to manage COVID-19 impacts better than originally expected, with student numbers holding up, and through careful management of cash and costs. Government support measures have served to help universities navigate those challenges.
The OfS continuously monitors provider financial sustainability, engaging more closely with those where it considers there to be increased financial risk.
Universities are autonomous businesses and continue to remain responsible for the decisions they make in regard to their business model and sustainability.