Universities hardest hit by coronavirus crisis might need to accept merger or mission shift in exchange for state aid, warn sector leaders

English universities at risk of financial collapse will receive significant government assistance only if they agree to merge or to accept a “further education future”, vice-chancellors have predicted.

While some university leaders are optimistic that last week’s raft of measures, including the advance payment of £2.6 billion in tuition fees and £100 million of research funding, was an interim “stability package” ahead of a larger bailout for institutions, others are less confident.

Some fear that the reintroduction of student number controls − which allow universities to recruit 5 per cent more this autumn than they did last year − signals the Treasury’s intention to intervene far more in higher education, which might include denying some institutions access to research funding.

Read more : Jack Grove : Times Higher Education : 11 May 2020