London: Here is a word of caution for the Indian students preparing to leave for Britain to enroll on courses from September! They may better check the status of their universities, as major funding cuts have pushed many British universities in crisis forcing the varsities to  abolish course and rendering lecturers redundant.

Many of Britain's over 120 universities enjoy an impressive reputation for research and teaching.

But following major funding cuts by the David Cameron government, some universities are said to be on the brink of bankruptcy while others are struggling hard to stay afloat in an increasingly market-driven education environment.

Fee income from international students including Indians is vital to the very survival of many universities, since they pay fees three times more than British and European Union students.

At risk are the majority of new UK universities who need to quickly adapt to the new competitive environment.

The London Metropolitan University, for example, has decided to close 70 per cent of its courses in areas such as History, Philosophy, Performing Arts, Caribbean Studies and
Modern Languages.

A third of England's universities have been labeled "at risk" from government cuts, with the worst hit facing mergers or even closures, according to a study by the University and College Union (UCU).

As many as 49 universities faced a "serious impact" due to the funding cuts.

Arts faculty hit badly

The hardest-hit faculty is the Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education.

Hit by student protests over a steep hike in fees applicable for British and EU students, many universities have started the process of streamlining, cost cutting and staff reduction.

Professors and lecturers are being offered voluntary severance schemes.

An Indian-origin professor at a London-based university said: "I am not sure what the future holds. I have been teaching here for the last 23 years, but have never seen such uncertainty. My colleagues are applying for jobs even outside Britain. In fact, with  increasing investment in higher education, India seems a more attractive proposition

Half of varsity courses on loss

According to a new report by the leading consultancy agency, nearly half of all university courses in the UK are loss-making, and many have departments with no "meaningful existence", but are being kept afloat by profits from other areas.

Writing in this week's Times Higher Education, Matt Robb, senior principal at Parthenon, says: "Most institutions have a small number of popular courses (for example, business
studies) that make huge margins and subsidise the rest, including large numbers of courses that whet little student appetite but are of great interest to academics."

Old and established universities such as Oxford and Cambridge are less affected by the funding cuts because they have their own sources of donations and high research income.