UNIVERSITIES face massive job losses if £1bn of higher education cuts are approved, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman warned yesterday.
Mr Sheerman, a former Commons education select committee chairman, said more than 1,000 jobs could be lost at the country’s largest universities as a result of cuts which are expected to be announced in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
While details of the CSR are yet to be announced, experts estimate higher education cuts at £1bn over the next three to four years.
In the Commons yesterday Mr Sheerman claimed there would be ‘1,000 job losses in every university in this country’ if the cuts went ahead, saying: “Are you aware that it is estimated there will be 1,000 job losses in every university in this country if we have the predicted cuts in university budgets?
“Isn’t it about time we had a serious debate on this essential element of our prosperity in our country?”
But later outside the Commons Mr Sheerman admitted that his estimate was based on Britain’s largest universities and job losses at smaller universities – including Huddersfield University – would be less than 1,000.
Mr Sheerman said: “Some will be above and below 1,000 because it will be pro-rata. This is the most successful sector in our country, more successful than the banks. Why cut it? It’s the key to our future and investment. We will be killing a golden goose if we do this.”
Huddersfield University employs about 1,900 staff, compared to Leeds University which has 7,645 staff and Manchester University – the largest in the country – which has 11,491 employees.
Deputy vice-chancellor of Huddersfield University, Peter Slee, said the university would wait until details of the CSR were announced before commenting.
Labour had planned for 20% higher education cuts if they had been returned to power.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said: “These comments do not take into account the work of Lord Browne who made recommendations to Government this week on a new funding system. His proposals are for graduates to make a greater contribution to the cost of their education, linked to their ability to pay. These recommendations are currently under consideration and are informing our Comprehensive Spending Review negotiations with the Treasury.
“The Government has already made it clear that ensuring the university sector is properly funded remains a key objective. It is universities themselves to determine what level of staffing they require to offer quality education for their students.”