Smart tech investments a priority as UK universities set to lose £17bn by 2027

Technology is crucial in helping universities find savings and serve students better tomorrow.

Universities are buckling under financial pressures.

Tuition fees for domestic students have been capped at £9,250 since 2017, leaving universities exposed to inflating costs, but unable to adjust income to compensate. With inflation running at 10 per cent, this is set to see universities lose more than £17bn in income by 2027, as inflation remains persistently high.

Higher education institutions have already lost in excess of £6bn since 2017, with the pace of losses accelerating. Despite UCAS predicting a rise in student numbers, by 2027 universities are expected to be losing £5bn to inflation each year leaving them no room for error when it comes to spending decisions.

Something has got to give.

The cost of running universities has increased since the fixed tuition fees were introduced, and the income received from these fees no longer goes as far as it once did. This has resulted in universities now having 15 per cent less to spend on teaching each student than they did in 2012.

Universities now have a difficult decision to make around finances and how they can continue to provide the very best education, experience and facilities for students.

Some Vice Chancellors are calling for an increase in domestic tuition fees in order to keep running their universities. Others are reluctant to have students take on more debt when they’re already dealing with the increased cost of living, concerned that a rise in university fees, particularly when it comes to disadvantaged students, could deter them from applying to university courses altogether.

Universities are increasingly turning to international students to plug this funding gap. However, even a marked rise in the influx of international students is unlikely to offset the deficit.

So, what’s the best way forward?

With no relief in sight, higher education institutions are going to have to find other ways to fill the financial gaps they are experiencing.

“Universities have no room for error when it comes to spending decisions, as their financial constraints will only increase over the next four years,” said Leo Hanna, Executive Vice President at TechnologyOne in the UK.

“If tuition fees remain fixed, the higher education sector must prioritise long-term forecasting, especially given the forecast uptick in student demand. Universities need access to streamlined and comprehensive data to make informed decisions.”

For this, technology within universities has never been more important. Smart investments made today will be crucial in helping institutions find savings and serve students better tomorrow.

An integrated SaaS enterprise resource planning solution can aid UK universities in streamlining processes, eliminating redundant tasks and reducing administrative overhead, leading to increased operational efficiency and cost savings through optimised resource allocation.

To be able to identify areas of potential saving, higher education institutions need real-time visibility into their financial data and analytics. Integrated software solutions provide universities with a comprehensive view of their financial health and can help them to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation, budget planning and cost containment measures.

Additionally, digitising workflows and automating manual processes can eliminate paper waste, reduce printing costs and minimise the time and effort spent on manual data entry and reconciliation.

SaaS ERP systems like TechnologyOne’s OneEducation solution provide UK universities with the tools and capabilities to achieve greater financial efficiency and long-term financial sustainability while navigating the ever-changing UK educational landscape.

Publish date

29 Aug 2023


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