Funding cuts plunge UK universities in turmoil

London: Indian students preparing to leave for Britain to enrol on courses from September may well check the status of their universities major funding cuts have plunged many British universities in crisis with courses being abolished and lecturers rendered redundant.

Many of Britain`s over 120 universities enjoy a formidable reputation for research and teaching.

Indian students have been travelling to Britain since the early nineteenth century, including leaders of the freedom struggle such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

But due to major funding cuts by the David Cameron government, some universities are said to be on the brink of bankruptcy while others are struggling hard to stay afloat in an increasingly market-driven education environment.

Since Indian and other international students pay high fees ? three times more than British and European Union students ? they are in much demand.

Fee income from international students is vital to the very survival of many universities.

UK universities have a large number of agents in India, and often universities ignore sub-standard academic qualifications to offer Indian students places on courses.

There have also been instances of Indian students being disappointed with the quality of education they get here.

The London Metropolitan University, for example, has decided to close 70 per cent of its courses in areas such as History, Philosophy, Performing Arts, Caribbean Studies and Modern Languages.

The hardest-hit faculty is the Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education.

Hit by student protests over a steep hike in fees applicable for British and EU students, many universities have started the process of streamlining, cost cutting and staff reduction.

Professors and lecturers are being offered voluntary severance schemes.

An Indian-origin professor at a London-based university told PTI: "I am not sure what the future holds. I have been teaching here for the last 23 years, but have never seen such uncertainty. My colleagues are applying for jobs even outside Britain. In fact, with increasing investment in higher education, India seems a more attractive proposition now".

According to a new report by the leading consultancy agency Parthenon, nearly half of all university courses in the UK are loss-making, and many have departments with no "meaningful existence", but are being kept afloat by profits from other areas.

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