Headline June22, 2014



The funding council says issuing  bonds is attractive for universities, providing long-term financing at relatively low interest rates.

Still, Institutions must make sure that they can repay the bonds when they mature -which may be challenging for some.

The net liquidity of the higher education sector is set to fall by £1.17 billion in the current academic year, to £6.22 billion, with rising staff and operating costs shrinking the sector's financial surplus to 2.2 percent of income, from 3.9 percent in 2012-2013.

''Operating on such fine margins means that even small changes in income could have a material impact on the sector's financial performance,'' the funding council said in a report.

For now, universities have relatively stable revenue streams, Ms Bergman said, ''Once you get an undergraduate student in, you've got three years of revenue that are pretty predictable.''

But this could be under threat. Sharp increases in English university fees are encouraging some students to study overseas,  while universities have warned that strict new immigration rules are turning away international students.

Full-time international student enrollment from outside the European Union has stagnated recently after double digital growth in the past. A Moody's credit note in April said that the main factor in the stagnation:

Was 1 percent annual decline in post-graduate entrants between 2011 and 2013, largely because of the new student Visa requirements.

The agency said the change was  ''credit negative''  for English universities because fees from international and European Union-domiciled undergraduates and graduates accounted for 34 percent of the universities income for 2012-13.

While income from foreign students is likely to remain substantial,  there is a risk that that future growth will be slower than previously forecast.  ''This is one of the principal risks within the sector,'' Janet Hieva, a co-author of the funding council report, said in an interview.

''We have seen evidence that some institutions have started to reduce their overseas fee income projections to take into account lower lower growth expectations,'' she said.

International students make up more than one-quarter of all post-graduates, and n some subjects they constitute more than half of the student body, which makes part of the sector vulnerable:  ''It's a very heavy reliance on students from outside the U.K, to maintain the viability of the of their courses,'' Ms Hieva said.

British undergraduate and post graduate courses are typically shorter than in most European countries, which make them attractive to many students:

But shorter courses mean faster turnover and make recruitment more critical. ''It's a massive marketing effort to maintain the current student numbers,'' Ms Hieva said.

Global competition for students is also rising, from other English speaking countries, such as the United States and Canada, and from countries like Germany and the Netherlands that charge far lower tuition and increasingly offering courses taught in English.

In 2010,  as the recession triggered a surge in applications to universities, the British government introduced a cap on international student numbers. This is now being phased out over the two years  2015-16:

A policy shift that may sharply increase student numbers and the universities tuition revenue but may also make heavy demands on them to expand their facilities.

''The long term financial health of universities is more uncertain than it was five years ago,'' Ms. Bergman said. ''Some will be stronger and some will be weaker.''

Still, she added, ''overall universities still represent a very stable business model and have  strong credit profile. So, more uncertainty, but from a  pretty high base.''

With respectful dedication to the Global Students. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Single Vision '''

Good night and God bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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