Concerns have been raised about the status of the unique Oxbridge tutorial system following news that around £10 million will be withdrawn from government funding to Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
In a document addressed to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Oxford University has reportedly said that it will have little choice but to slim down provision for teaching unless an alternative source of income is found.
The proposed cuts would affect funds allocated for the upkeep of Oxbridge’s historic buildings, and the University warns it would have to divert resources to fill the gap.
David Palfreyman, the bursar of New College, Oxford, and the director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, expressed concern at the difficulties less wealthy colleges could face in maintaining the prestigious tutorial system. “We are a relatively rich college and we will do our damnedest to keep it going but I don’t know how poorer colleges are going to struggle through.”
Commenting on the challenges facing Oxford, a University spokesperson denied that the tutorial system is to be scrapped. However, they pointed out, “Current public funding only covers about 50% of Oxford’s undergraduate teaching costs. The more cuts we face in government funding, the more acute this problem becomes.
“We are doing all we can to help ourselves, particularly through our large fundraising campaign, where we are asking friends and alumni to help us maintain Oxford’s standards of excellence.”
The University is not alone in facing fiscal difficulties. The University and College Union has suggested that more that 5,000 jobs are at risk nationwide as the government reduces its Higher Education budget by £180 million.
However, some have argued that it is disproportionate that Oxbridge should be hit by £10 million of this cut.
Oxford University is still engaged in consultations with the HEFCE.