A leading Birmingham college could be forced to merge or close because of cuts to university funding, lecturers have claimed.
Newman University College is at a “very high level of risk” of being forced out of business, according to the University and College Union.
But the college’s principal last night rejected the claim, insisting it remained “in very sound financial health”.
It follows the Government’s announcement that funding for higher education will be cut from £7.1 billion to £2.9 billion, a reduction of 40 per cent.
Plans to raise the maximum universities can charge for tuition to £9,000 a year are designed to make up the funding gap, with students compensating for the drop in Government grant.
But some universities will be hit harder than others, because the Government will continue to fund teaching for science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects - while funding for other subjects is expected to be close to nothing, or removed entirely.
Some universities also have other sources of income, such as fees paid by students from outside the European Union.
The union, which represents 120,000 academics, lecturers and higher education staff, has compiled a report naming the institutions it believes are most at risk, as part of its campaign against the funding cuts.
Newman University College, in Bartley Green, is in the “very high risk” category, according to the study.
University College Birmingham, previously known as the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies, is also named as a college in the “high risk” category. It teaches courses leading to qualifications awarded by the University of Birmingham.
Other “high risk” institutions include The University of Wolverhampton, The University of Worcester and Harper Adams University College in Newport, Shropshire.
Sally Hunt, the union’s General Secretary, said: “In reality, more than one in three of England’s universities could find themselves in real trouble once the landscape of higher education changes and funding cuts bite. The worst-case scenario for is closure - something university leaders and the business secretary have both acknowledged is a possibility.”
Professor Peter Lutzeier, Principal and Chief Executive of Newman University College, said: ““We reject the findings of University and College Union’s flawed report. Its suggestions regarding the financial exposure of individual HE institutions to the changes fail to tell the whole story.”
Liberal Democrat MPs are under intense pressure to vote against planned fee increases in a Commons vote tomorrow.
However, Birmingham MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) is likely to vote in favour of the policy, arguing the Government’s proposals are fairer than the current system.
He has warned that an occupation of his constituency offices in Yardley by students opposed to the fee rise earlier this week will only make him more likely to vote for the increases.