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Funding a British education

Tighter spending could lead to UK universities losing international standing.

Archaeology Ph.D. student Chris Kerns said the cuts show a lack of understanding about how research, teaching and learning take place.

“Archaeologists work as a team,” Kerns said. “Having the right amount of diversity in staff allows a department to collaborate more effectively instead of requiring outside expertise to complete projects.”

Kerns, originally from America, came to study in the U.K. for its academic reputation. “I came specifically to work with the world’s leaders in the area I was specializing in. When it came to working on my Ph.D., Bristol was my top choice because of my supervisor,” Kerns said.

However, now that universities are tightening their belts in the wake of a funding crisis, the attraction of British universities is waning. “After all these cuts I think many British universities are going to have a hard time getting international students here,” Kerns said.

International students might not be the only ones turning away from British universities. There is a growing concensus among postgraduates and researchers that it is time to jump ship.

“It’s harder for people who are finishing their Ph.D.s to get a position at a university in the U.K.,” said Ravinash Kumar, a University of Bristol Ph.D. student in chemistry.

Last year, of Bristol’s four Ph.D. chemistry graduates, two went abroad for research positions and two are not currently working in the field, Kumar said.

Academics are hoping the government remembers the true value of knowledge and invest in it before Britain’s ability to generate research and learning is lost to its rivals.