While the University is not responsible for external environmental factors, it is responsible for students at York and their experience here. In these uncertain times the University must ensure that students’ fees are not used to manage the debt service cost, but reinvested back into the student experience.
The “free cash generation” embarked on an ambitious legacy of capital investment, however, as that era comes to a close it must be remembered that investment in students is just as vital as expanding the University. Although the Heslington East expansion allows the University to recruit in greater numbers, servicing the payments of that expansion should not fall on students’ fees if the economic environment fluctuates. It was clear in the report that the University is confident in its long-term financial health, but it should not shore up the funding void in the short-term.
If applications from overseas students continue to fall, currently 6 per cent down on this time last year, the University will have to combat this decrease in fee payments. The balance between expanding the campus quickly and ensuring present students do not get a raw deal is a hard one to tread, but prospective students should not help plug a funding gap created by the legacy of an intensive capital building programme.