Outsourced ThinkTank may solve it!

    December 22nd 2010, 4:40am - Posted by Administrator

  • Last month protest by students against cut in education and hike in the tuition fees has put universities into spot light. Elite and average class universities, already minting money in the increased demand of education, have ‘contently’ welcomed the government’s move. However, a report prepared by Policy Exchange suggest that outsourcing services like planning and scheduling will help reduce a huge yearly expense incurred in universities on these services.

    The report estimates that the reduction in the cost could be as significant as 30% or £3 billion annually.Policy Exchange, a thinktank, claimed that many current practices used in universities are outdated and privatizing these services will have a positive impact on universities budget. The report argues that if universities outsourced much of their services such as the planning and scheduling of student residence , they would save a significant sum which could be spent on teaching and research. According to the report, Higher Education has expressed its dissatisfaction of universities not embracing the private sector and not being creative enough in this age of Austerity.

    The report has come out days after the government announced the cut to campuses for the coming two years. Last Monday, the universities minister announced funding for university teaching would be cut by £300m next year, from £4.9bn to £4.6bn. The reduction in the research funds will by £100m. The cut in the grant to research will further be cut to £3.8bn

    The government has argued that reduction will be compensated by universities spending more on research from the increased funds as a result of higher fees in future. However, universities are still reluctant to accept that their earnings will shoot up to 100% on average when they start charging students up to£9,000 a year. Universities claim that they foresee very challenging times ahead.

    Policy exchange has been emphatic in saying that outsourcing will bring efficiency and more creative approach in running of universities' services. A survey carried out two years ago showed that a quarter of universities were utilizing outsourcing services. Alex Massey, the person who authored the thinktank's report,alerted that an overwhelmingly majority of universities managers regard the private sector not reliable and competent for their universities. He added that the managers have failed to recognize the improvements and cost-effectiveness can be achieved through working with private partners. He believed that with the hike in tuition fees, students' expectations are likely to soar from universities management to adopt competitive and market-oriented approach.

    But the whole notion has been deflated by the Universities UK in response to Policy Exchange’s revelations. Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of the group refuted by saying that universities are already share services and engage extensively with private businesses. She argues that universities are well aware of students’ expectations and doing all to ensure preserving and improving the quality of student experience for which the UK is rightly renowned. She holds VAT charges the biggest hurdle to improve efficiency.

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