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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

UoA faces £15 million deficit as international student admissions stagnate

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

"A significant difficulty, but not a catastrophe," says Principal Boyne as cost-cutting looms

At an open staff meeting this morning, University of Aberdeen chiefs revealed the historic institution faces a budget deficit of 15 million pounds.

The deficit results from international PGT student admissions not increasing as expected, instead remaining close to last year's intake.

Chiefs pointed to increasingly stringent immigration laws as a possible explanation for the plateau.

Financial data has revealed that the 2023/2024 budget was constructed in the belief that tuition fee revenue would increase by 15%, from £96 million to £111 million.

This did not occur.

University Principal George Boyne told staff members: “Across the UK sector… there is a significant shortfall in international PGT numbers.”

“We are five percent short on the revenue this year that we had expected to have... It is a difficulty, a significant difficulty, but not a catastrophe.”

“My very strong preference is to avoid compulsory redundancies,” the chief executive added.

CFO Mark White, the University’s head of finance, added: “[This] has put us in the position of having a much larger deficit than what we had anticipated, and also puts us in the territory of potentially breaching our financial covenants.”

Professor Boyne told the audience he is working on a “Financial Recovery Plan” he believes will lead a phased return to a balanced budget.

Potential solutions raised by chiefs at the meeting included “supporting” early retirement or voluntary severance, continuing a University-wide staff recruitment freeze, and generating income from unused assets.

University executives faced a series of questions from those in the audience.

These queries included whether falling numbers could be attributed to high tuition fees and why the budget had been based on a potential increase in student enrollment.

Senior managers also suggested that financially underperforming programmes and courses could be cut altogether, with Senior VP Karl Leydecker commenting: “We can’t keep delivering the small courses we’ve been delivering.”

More to come...


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