Norwich university ‘not under threat’

Norwich University College of the Arts (Nuca) is set to thrive, according to its principal, despite a report that it is among the most likely places in the UK to close as government funding cuts hit home.

A study for the University and College Union (UCU) named Nuca among four institutions at 'very high risk' of being forced out of business by big cuts to university teaching grants.

The study said Nuca was likely to be among the hardest hit because of its reliance on public funding. But Nuca principal Prof John Last hit back at the controversial UCU report, which he claimed was 'deeply flawed'.

He said the university, which has a 165-year history in the city, was 'confident of its ability to thrive in a less regulated marketplace for higher education'.

He added: 'We have oversubscribed courses, high levels of student satisfaction and an excellent record of students securing jobs. Our course offer is exciting and directly relevant to the skills needed in the creative economy.

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'We are confident that we will continue to deliver our specialist arts, design and media higher education long into the future.'

He added: 'The UCU report, which categories NUCA as 'at very high risk', is deeply flawed. The analysis is partial and looks only at sources of funding not at institutions' financial strength or their ability to compete in a new marketplace. To rely on the level and proportion of public funding and the numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds is far too crude an assessment of likely financial difficulty.'

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Prof Last said he had 'concerns of principle' about the government's proposals for higher education funding – but he said he did not have any concerns about Nuca's 'ability to thrive in a more competitive environment'.

The government's proposals hinge on a commons vote today, when MPs will decide whether or not to support an increase in annual tuition fees to a maximum of �9,000 as part of a package of measures.

The other universities on the UCU 'very high risk' list are Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, and Newman University College, Birmingham. All deny that they could be threatened by the cuts.

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