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NUS responds to UCU survey showing prospective students fear their university could go bust

Wednesday 3 June 2020

University and College Union (UCU) has published new research that shows almost a quarter of prospective students fear their university could go bust as a result of Covid-19. Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS Vice President (Higher Education), commented:

“Students have always known how much the quality of their teaching and learning is connected to the welfare and fair treatment of staff members, as well as the financial sustainability of their institution. COVID-19 has shown that university management is not prioritising staff or students at this time, but is forced instead to focus on how to bring money into an institution because the government refuses to sufficiently underwrite the higher education sector.

“It is no surprise that university management would like to continue as if it is ‘business as usual’ for fear of losing out on the income students provide - but students and staff are not just figures on a balance sheet. Bringing students and staff members back onto campuses too early could result in deaths that are entirely preventable.

“The government must underwrite the higher education sector to ensure its survival as a vital public good and integral part of our economic recovery. This should include a student safety net and funds to allow all students to redo this year at no extra cost, or have their tuition fees reimbursed or written off. The government must also advise institutions to carefully consider the start dates and format of any blended learning environments, so that everyone can be confident that these environments are safe for students and staff.”

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Notes to editors
Contact: NUS UK Press Office | pressoffice@nus.org.uk | 07866 695 010 |

University and College Union (UCU) has published new research that shows almost a quarter of prospective students fear their university could go bust as a result of Covid-19. 

Youthsight polled 516 students who have applied to university this academic year (2020/21) and found:

  • 23% were moderately or very worried that that the university they wish to attend will go bust (not have enough money to operate) because of the crisis (9% were very worried)
  • 49% were moderately or very worried that the university they wish to attend will need to make cuts because of the Covid-19 crisis that will negatively impact their education (23% were very worried)
  • 71% were moderately or very supportive of moving the start of their first year of university to a later time if it meant they could have more face-to-face rather than online teaching (52% were very supportive)