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Humanities and social sciences will bear the brunt, say sources, as the debris settles following the British government's shock budget announcement
British universities face the bleak prospect of massive budget cuts, following the unveiling of a review by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, the finance minister, George Osborne last week.
This is according to the education news magazine Times Higher Education.
The economic plan includes a reduction in the higher education budget from GBP 7.1 billion to GBP 4.2 billion by 2014-15.
George Osborne, the chancellor, called universities »jewels in the economic crown« before announcing the GBP 2.9 billion cutback.
However, research into the natural sciences and courses in science, technology, engineering and maths are exempt from the cuts.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees higher education, will »continue to fund teaching for science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects«, says The Treasury in a press release.
But the fate of arts, humanities and social science subjects still hangs in the balance, according to sources quoted in Times Higher Education.
»The cuts will mean the biggest change in the sector for more than 40 years, and state funding may be withdrawn for teaching in many subjects,« says lobby group Universities UK president Steve Smith.
»The arts and humanities appear to be the most vulnerable and there would be serious repercussions for British universities in the overseas market« he continues.
The scale of the cuts, along with the prospect of a rise in tuition fees may drive students from the UK to study abroad.
»I predict that in the coming years, studying abroad will be a far more common choice for UK students, especially if tuition fees in Britain rise as high as GBP 2,000 a year in some universities as has been forecast,« says Dr Jo Rizen, rector of Maastricht University.
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