English universities are in danger of falling behind those in other countries for want of investment, the head of the funding council has said. (BBC, 20 novembre 2009)
Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), said a "golden age" may be over.
The recently launched review of student finance might result in a "rebalancing" of the sources of money.
Maintaining current public funding would be "extremely difficult".
Sir Alan was speaking at Hefce’s annual meeting, in London.
"It seems to me we are in what could be a very difficult transition," he said.
"There has been a period of real terms growth that may be seen in history as a bit of a golden age."
He said the UK and Spain were spending less on higher education, whereas other countries such as Australia and the United States were investing heavily.
Sir Alan said: "This is happening at a time of intense competition for overseas students, at a time of reduced spending, at a time when there are significant cost pressures."
He added: "The implication there in the review is that we are going to see a rebalancing of financial contributions to higher education from the tax payer, from students, from graduates and from employers."
But the review is not even due to report until after the general election.
"We have to make the short-term case for maintaining investment and assisting universities through this transition process," he said.
"It won’t be easy."