RLUK has joined a collective of education and research sector organisations appealing to digital content, hardware and software vendors seeking “pricing constraint” in the face of the growing cost-of-living crisis.

Signatories to the statement, which cites a “perfect storm of declining resources and increased demands”, include:

The statement in full reads:

Universities, research institutions and colleges have a vital role to play in driving growth, jobs and prosperity.

Sector finances however face fresh challenges; the cost of living crisis means that the sector’s costs including energy, equipment and estates have soared at a time when income, particularly domestic student fee income, has reduced in real terms.

While the UK government is protecting research and development (R&D) spending, long term strategic challenges persist. This includes increasingly precarious international recruitment combined with the fact that 30% of research is unfunded and is heavily reliant on international student fees.  

The cap on domestic student fees remains meaning that each years’ tuition fee received is worth at least 18% less than when first introduced in 2012–13. English universities reporting an in-year deficit has increased from 5% (2015–16) to 32% (2019–20)1.In English institutions, net operating cashflow has decreased from 8.4% of income (2019–20) to 4.2% (2020–21).

At the same time, the sector needs to deliver more, from providing extra support to students and staff struggling with the cost of living, achieving net zero, training approximately half a million nurses, doctors, and other health and care professionals between 2021 and 20262.

Furthermore, the UK government estimates that the R&D workforce will need at least an additional 150,000 people by 2030 to build on its position as a global R&D leader.

Put simply, the sector faces a perfect storm of declining resources and increased demands. Exchange rate fluctuations are in many cases amplifying the impact. Every item of our expenditure is subject to intense scrutiny.

We ask that providers work alongside us and not impose price increases, bundle products or otherwise require conditions that limit our ability to meet our community’s needs or manage our spend.

We call upon suppliers to offer flexibility, pricing constraint and to partner with us to meet these challenges.

Jisc news item: Cost of living crisis: higher education and research sectors call on suppliers to reduce prices