Funding Plan to Help England’s Universities Continue Supporting the NHS

That’s according to Professor David Green CBE, one of the country’s most experienced University Vice Chancellors and a noted campaigner for health education. Professor Green, of the University of Worcester, has set out a plan to help enable universities hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic to continue their essential educational work in the future whilst continuing their efforts in support of the NHS now.

Professor Green’s straightforward plan is to award a special one-off grant of £5,000 this September to each university in England for every nursing, medicine, midwifery and health student they educated last year [1]. This would match the Government’s grant of £5,000 for ‘maintenance’ to every student studying for a registered health profession in ‘subjects allied to medicine’ from September [2].

The plan will enable the universities who have done the most to stem the pandemic to continue their invaluable work in partnership with the NHS right across the country.

Professor Green’s proposal is backed by detailed analysis of the UUK plan and a list of 25 towns and cities across England whose health systems and local economies would particularly benefit from the health education focussed plan. 110 of the 140 Higher Education Institutions in England educate health care professionals – and so the benefit would truly be nationwide.

Professor Green said: “The Universities UK proposal to double the QR research grant to bail out universities will fail to stabilise the university system and would increase inequality across the country at the cost of £2 billion.

“Universities, our staff, graduates and students are giving their all to tackle Covid-19, but this is not the plan we need or want. Fresh thinking is needed fast.

“Our graduates working in the NHS as nurses, doctors, midwives, paramedics and more are doing their dedicated best every day to tackle this pandemic and save as many lives as possible. The whole country applauds them, together with all their colleagues and the other essential workers in transport, the food industry and the public services who show their quiet courage and commitment each and every time they go to work.

“When this crisis is over, we are going to need to educate many more health professionals to the highest possible standards…the whole country from the Prime Minister down will demand nothing less.

“We also need a plan which will help the whole country…not just a special few…that is why this plan is based on health students who are educated right across the country by universities in partnership with local Health Trusts and the health professions.

“This plan will stabilise the finances of those universities, the clear majority, who educate health professionals, so that their vital educational work can continue.”

Professor Green’s research, which he has published for public scrutiny, shows how cities and towns, as well as universities, across the country from Newcastle to Plymouth, Canterbury to Carlisle will benefit.

Included in the list is the country’s second city, Birmingham, as well as: Bradford, Brighton, Canterbury, Chester, Carlisle, Derby, Greater Manchester, Huddersfield, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Norwich, Ormskirk, Preston, Plymouth, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Wolverhampton and Worcester.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This proposal does three things which are all interesting: it builds on the health care work undertaken across the sector, it feeds resource into the provinces and it has a more distributive effect than alternative proposals put forward. I urge Ministers and their advisors to consider this innovative proposal very seriously.”

The detailed analysis of every English university shows that powerhouse health universities, such as Kings College London, will also gain from this plan to the tune of £57.5 million while University College London would gain £37.8m and Leeds University and Manchester University £27m and £39.8m respectively. Other big winners would include the Universities of Bristol £16m, Cambridge £13.7m, Nottingham £30.9m, Oxford £12.6m, Imperial College £21.3m, Queen Mary London £18.4m, Surrey £13.7m and Warwick £10m.

This ‘Health Education’ led plan is an alternative to the £2 billion bail-out plan advanced by the Board of Universities UK. Universities UK propose the Government increases the Quality-Related Research grants to universities by 100% next year to make up for the loss of income from international students and summer conferences due to the Covid-19 crisis. This UUK plan would concentrate £2 billion of public funding on a small number of universities, leaving the majority of universities who educate health professionals with multi-million pound deficits which are none of their own making.

Professor Green’s research demonstrates that the Universities UK plan would actually give the 10 universities who least represent society in England [3] an average £5,002 for every UK student they educate whilst giving the 10 universities who best represent society in England just £194 per UK student, despite the fact that both groups actually educate almost identical numbers of health students in aggregate. One of the biggest winners from the Universities UK plan would be the LSE, who do not educate any health students, but would gain £19,393,014.

Professor Green said:

“I urge Ministers to consider this straightforward health education-based plan as an alternative. It will actually meet the needs of the hour. It will do the job of stabilising the university financial system. It will lift ‘left behind’ communities right across the country. It will do much more and cost less than the Universities UK plan. Furthermore, if Ministers are prepared to spend £2 billion stabilising the finances of our universities, this plan would still leave a strategic reserve of nearly £400 million which will enable the survival of the small and specialist Music, Arts and Agricultural universities and colleges who have been hard hit by the effects of Covid-19 as well as any other universities, without health education, who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic.”

Read the report by Professor David Green CBE



[1] In 2018-19 the Higher Education Statistics Agency reported that there were 323,700 students at UK Universities studying in Group 1 Medicine and Dentistry and Group 2 Subjects Allied to Medicine.

[2 ]

[3] The 10 universities which best and least reflect society respectively are those identified by Professor Iain Martin in his research published by the Higher Education Policy Institute:

Professor Martin was Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Anglia Ruskin University at the time this was written. He is now Vice Chancellor at Deakin University in Australia.

All but one of the 10 universities who least reflect society are in London and the South. Durham is the sole exception. The 10 universities which best represent society are widely distributed.