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May 19, 2009 5:16 PM

Newcastle East Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has attacked today's announcement that the Higher Education Funding Council is to cut university teaching funding by £247 million for the academic year 2010-11, and is also cutting planned increases in student numbers by 20,000.

The news has prompted fears that the region's universities may have to shed jobs as a result.

Reacting, Greg Stone criticised DIUS for issuing inconsistent advice to HE institutions over student numbers, leading to uncertainty over forward planning and financial projections.

He said: "Gordon Brown is very eager to attack the Tories using the spectre of public service cuts, but his own Government is presiding over significant cuts in DIUS funding to universities and colleges.

"We have already seen a crisis in sixth form funding leading to fears that there will not be sufficient funds for A-level places next year; now, it looks like the same is set to happen to university course places.

"DIUS is facing a total of £400 million of budget cuts and has badly mishandled its budgets, with HEFCE and LSC funding in particular disarray. We have already seen that capital funding for new college buildings has been spectacularly mismanaged, throwing major investment opportunities into doubt.

"The universities play a vital role in the competitiveness of the region's economy, and many people in my constituency either study or work at Newcastle and Northumbria.

"Now, it appears that student numbers are being cut back and there are fears this will lead to job losses, as a result of Government financial mismanagement."