THE county’s university is battling to retain staff against the ‘significant’ affects of the coronavirus says its vice chancellor.

Professor Julie Mennell has made the comment in light of a report, by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which claims that 13 higher education institutions across the country could go to the wall because of the crisis.

It warns that these universities, which have not been named, might “not be viable in the long run without a government bailout or debt restructuring”.

However Professor Mennell said the long-term financial prospects of the university were strong and it would continue to support students and staff.

She said: “Alongside many businesses, universities across our sector are being impacted significantly as a result of Covid-19.

“Like others, we are seeking to mitigate the impact in the short term while ensuring we continue to support our students and retain our staff, now and in the period ahead.

“Not least as demand for higher-level skills to the NHS, wider health and social care sector, emergency services, education, the rural and visitor economy, and business and industry will remain, and increase in some areas.

“As the anchor higher education institution for Cumbria and with a strong long-term financial forecast, we continue our vital role in equipping our region with the future skills and workforce needed to thrive in this changing economy.

“And as we emerge from this crisis, the skills, knowledge, and capabilities developed through a university education will be more important than ever.”

Last month it was reported thousands of students have been urged to sign up to “mass action” to win compensation.

But the National Union of Students says universities will struggle to foot the bill without Government support.

Claire Sosienski Smith, the union’s vice president for higher education, said: “Even if students complain to their individual institutions, how will universities afford it when the Government hasn’t announced a single penny of additional funding to support them?”