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Moody blues

Cambridge is alone among eight universities—and the country—in avoiding a credit ratings downgrade, new analysis shows how much universities are likely to lose if tuition fees are reduced, and we hear who will be on the board of UK Research and Innovation.

The credit ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded credit ratings for seven UK universities because of risks caused by Brexit and because lower economic growth “could put pressure on public finances, resulting in lower transfers to universities of both teaching and research, which could impact competitiveness”. It suggests universities could suffer from the knock-on effects of a weaker UK economy and stagnant domestic demand, combined with fewer international students, loss of European research funding, and fewer EU students and staff; It says the loss of international students poses the most significant credit risk.

Moody’s predicts that some universities will be unable to realise their revenue targets and says credit ratings could fall further if universities are unable to realise targets for international or domestic student growth, and if government funding for higher education falls, or if the UK sovereign rating falls again. Last week, Moody’s downgraded the UK’s rating from Aa1 to Aa2 because of weaker public finances and the challenges of Brexit.

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