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What does the government bailout for research mean for university autonomy?

One of the best things about the announcement of the government’s Sustaining University Research Expertise (SURE) scheme is that in the first few paragraphs, the authors consciously decide to drop the phrase “eligible higher education provider” and use “universities” instead. It feels like a step back in time to the days of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

In June, the government agreed what at the time was thought of as Bailout 2.0 for research, promising long-term, low-interest loans to fill the funding gap left by the coronavirus pandemic. With this now launched as SURE, the government will cover 80 per cent of a university’s losses from international students for the academic year 2020-21, up to the value of non-publicly funded research activity in that university, supplemented with “a small amount” of government grant.

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