Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur has warned that the University is at risk of having a dangerously low surplus next year.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Arthur slammed government policy for leaving universities like Leeds financially insecure.
“None of us foresaw the massive change of £3k to £9k”, he said, adding, “It’s all led to uncertainty in student numbers, it’s made life more difficult to plan. When you run a big organization like this and you have uncertainty in income, you have to plan for that uncertainty.”
The VC blamed this fall in the number of students on the government’s controversial ‘Core and Margin’ education reforms.
Under this scheme, universities charging more than £7,500, like Leeds, are forced to hand back a certain number of places or suffer a substantial fine. However, with fewer applicants achieving top grades in the summer, Leeds has struggled to fill places.
The Vice Chancellor said: “We were aiming for 5,900 [new students] but it looks like we’ll end up at 5,600, maybe 5,700. We definitely need to keep it above 5,400 so that the University finances continue to function. We are heavily dependent on recruiting.”
Michael Arthur, who has been Vice Chancellor since 2004, is due to leave Leeds at the end of the academic year to become President University College London.
When asked if he felt that he had achieved all had intended to in his time at Leeds, Arthur replied that he was “two thirds” satisfied with his accomplishments.
One of his key aims as leader of the University had been to raise Leeds into the top 50 of the world rankings.
Although he admitted that such an aim was “always a stretch target”, Arthur was deeply critical of the rankings systems. “You can buy your way into the top 50, the way league tables are measured. League tables are dangerous, they become too important, they are not accurate and they are not what really matters about a university.”
Words: Max Bruges
Photo: Max Bruges