Words, £s, and the UK higher ed budget cuts

These are two Worldle ‘word clouds’ derived from the same UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) section (pp. 51-53) of the UK Government’s Spending Review (2010), which was just released an hour ago on 20 October. The messages should be viewed in conjunction with the actual text (of course), along with the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance (released on 12 October 2010). Deliberations about the tangible implications of the outlined budget cuts can be gleaned from the Times Higher Education site, the Guardian‘s spending review site, and the Universities UK site. Times Higher Education notes, ominously:

Government funding for higher education is to be cut by 40 per cent over four years, suggesting that public funding for teaching in the arts, humanities and social sciences may come to an end.

The Comprehensive Spending Review unveiled today includes a reduction in the higher education budget of £2.9 billion – from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion – by 2014-15.

The Treasury says in a statement that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees higher education, will “continue to fund teaching for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects”.

However, no mention is made of other subjects.

Cuts, and types of cuts, that don’t exactly match up to the frequency of positive terms in the above word cloud. On this note I was discussing the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance with a very senior London-based corporate leader the other day and he told me:

Yes, the outlook for UK universities is grim. Given that they are one of the few remaining areas where the UK is world class (and excluding the now tarnished financial sector), even accepting that the government deficit needs to be reduced, I question the rationale for these cuts.

As well put as it could be.

Kris Olds