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Complainant Name:
Sir Alan Langlands

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Daily Mail


Sir Alan Langlands of the Higher Education Funding Council for England complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article had seriously misrepresented the conclusions of the National Audit Office's report on "Regulating Financial Sustainability in Higher Education" and presented a misleading and distorted picture of the financial health of universities. He was particularly concerned about the article's central claim that ‘seven universities were on the brink of closure' / ‘faced imminent closure', stating that there was nothing in the report to support such a conclusion.


While the newspaper did not accept that its article was in breach of Clause 1 of the Editors' Code, the matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following letter:

Your article a few weeks ago which claimed ‘seven ailing universities' were on the brink of closure' misrepresents the findings of National Audit Office's report and gives a misleading impression of these institutions' financial health. Although the NAO mentioned seven institutions as being ‘at higher risk', nowhere does the report state that they face imminent closure.

The conclusion that many universities are in dire financial straits does not reflect the Higher Education Funding Council for England analysis quoted in the report. This said that the sector is in a sound financial position and ready to face future challenges. Total income for higher education institutions in England in 2009-10 was £22.2 billion, a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.

Sir Alan Langlands
Higher Education Funding Council for England

Date Published: 25/05/2011

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