Education and research spend but no support for students

Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the exchequer, announced that the government will maintain the current research and development budget, which is set to increase to £20 billion by 2024/25, in a bid to make the UK a “science superpower”. 

Universities have welcomed the chancellor’s re-commitment, with Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, calling it a “clear signal of intent”. 

“It is a huge, and well-deserved, vote of confidence, underlining the potential of an ideas-driven economy to boost growth, create high-value jobs and crowd-in other investments in skills and infrastructure,” he said. 

But students in the UK are frustrated that they will not receive any additional support to help cope with rising costs, as Hunt laid out a targeted scheme to subsidise energy bills for individuals on certain benefits. 

“It was painfully silent on students and post-16 education”

“For a budget that claims to be prioritising education, it was painfully silent on students and post-16 education,” said Chloe Field, vice president for higher education at the National Union of Students

“All [students] asked for was enough support to survive the worst cost-of-living crisis for decades, but once again they have been totally ignored.”

Rachel Hewitt, chief executive of MillionPlus, which represents 22 British universities, said she was “deeply concerned” that students were not protected from rising prices. 

“Jeremy Hunt is correct in his assessment that investment in education is investment in growth and it would be tragic if the cost of living is the barrier which stops someone taking the opportunity to study and boost their skills.” 

The chancellor also unveiled additional spending of £2.3 billion per year on schools in the autumn statement. 

“I’m pleased to see some extra school funding – they need it. But the failure to extend that to colleges is devastating,” said David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges.

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