Matt Robb quoted in media on higher education in UK
EY-Parthenon Partner Matt Robb explores difficulties currently being experienced by universities in Bloomberg Opinion, The Guardian and The Times.
The Bloomberg Opinion article “England’s Universities Are Struggling for Cash” highlights how the imbalance of cash flow in and out of higher education institutions isn’t easing the pressure on the finances of England’s universities.
Matt explores the role of bank loans to these universities and the option to keep on borrowing until the 2020s, when the cohort of 18-year-olds entering tertiary education is expected to rise again. “The banks are really worried about their loans to universities, but they haven’t got a choice,” he explains. “Nobody wants to be the first bank to push a university over the cliff.”
Matt discusses another facet of financing in education in The Guardian article “Student loan ban: some universities could lose a third of their intake.” Some modern UK universities could face a struggle to survive if plans go ahead to stop students with lower grades from qualifying for loans. Matt notes that cutting fees could have major implications for universities, arguing that the government’s new Office for Students can no longer refuse to bail out failing institutions if fees are cut without new public funding to compensate.
The Times piece “Universities suffer from fall in lucrative postgrads,” highlights that the number of postgraduates from the rest of the EU at top UK universities has fallen for the first time since 2012 as fears grow over university borrowing. Matt flags concerns about research funding after Brexit were already affecting confidence in Britain’s higher education.
“Borrowing by elite universities is generally supported by strong reputations and robust underlying global demand,” he explains, “but the combination of hostile immigration policies and Brexit materially raises the risk profile of these loans, even before considering the impact of reduced tuition fees.”