Posted tagged ‘efficiency savings’

Becoming very efficient

June 26, 2010

The latest suggestion that Irish universities have been offered by the government and some others is that they should be able to make further savings (and thus manage funding cuts) by being more ‘efficient’. What does this actually mean? If the ultimate efficiency is what we are after, then of course we should just admit the students and, immediately, hand them their degree certificates without all the awkwardness of teaching and examining. By those means we could get truly excellent results in an amazingly efficient way.

Of course we must accept that the current budgetary environment has implications for funding, but we should stop presenting budget cuts as ‘efficiency opportunities’. I am not suggesting that there is no scope anywhere in the system for cost saving efficiencies, but you cannot know that without analysis.

In the meantime, the same game is being played in England. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has just announced that over the current year there will be £82 million in ‘efficiency savings’ in the university sector. In reality this has nothing to do with efficiency, it is just a budget cut with an annoying name.

The lesson from all this is, I think, that the discussion about how to handle public funding pressures needs to be conducted more sensibly and more honestly. If it is, the universities will be in a much better position to respond constructively.