Securing sustainable funding 

We will secure sustainable funding that enables our universities to serve society better.

To us, sustainable funding will enable more students from all backgrounds to access education when and how it suits them, support diverse and excellent research, and allow our universities to plan for the long term. It will recognise that the teaching, research and innovation our universities undertake are interconnected, that changing one part of the system will impact the whole.

Universities UK will:

Secure an increase in funding for teaching in all four nations, which supports flexibility and choice for students.

Secure increases in public and private investment in university research which supports sustainable and impactful collaboration.

Support our universities to develop efficient, innovative and diverse business models.

2030 challenges
and opportunities

Declining unit of resource for teaching

The income received for home students no longer covers the cost of teaching them. At the same time, the maintenance support package – particularly in England – has seen real terms cuts due to inflation. This shortfall risks impacting universities’ ability to widen access for the most disadvantaged students, provide the high quality education needed to drive prosperity, and deliver the student experience that tomorrows’ students need to thrive. Due to high inflation and frozen tuition fee income, in 2021–22 the funding per student in England reached its lowest levels in real terms since 2011–12.


decline in value of per student funding in England between 2015–16 and 2025–26


deficit for teaching home students 2021–22

Increasing cross-subsidisation of research

Research conducted at our universities is also a loss-making activity. This includes publicly funded research, and research for charities and industry which universities must subsidise from different sources. In order for our universities to remain globally competitive and to make groundbreaking discoveries, they need to be less reliant on cross-subsidisation from other sources.


cost of research recovered by grants and income in 2021–22


deficit for research in 2021–22

With thanks to Anglia Ruskin University, Brunel University London, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Coventry University, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Nottingham Trent University and the Royal College of Art for supplying images.

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