Review of post-18 education and funding published

An independent panel, led by Philip Augar, has now published its recommendations for the Government’s review of post-18 education and funding in England.

One of the key headlines of the review is a proposed reduction in student fees from £9,250 to £7,500. This is accompanied by a recommendation that overall university sector income should be protected by an increased government contribution to teaching costs.

Positive implications

The review contains a number of recommendations with positive implications both for students and for Further Education. These include:

  • a focus on encouraging more flexible learning with improved opportunity to ensure the most diverse range of learners can benefit from higher and further education
  • addressing concerns about living costs with maintenance grants targeted to help those students most in need
  • capping the rate of interest students pay while they are still studying.

Areas of concern

The review also contains some areas for concern, such as:

  • the removal of loan funding for students on foundation years which is currently an important route for capable students from challenging or deprived backgrounds to make the step into higher education;
  • the knock-on impact of changes for universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and
  • potential restrictions on access and choice based on narrow conceptions of value.

Feasibility and impact

In her role as President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, Professor Dame Janet Beer said, “Studying at university is a transformative experience that remains a good investment for graduates. Anyone with the will and potential to study at a UK university should have the opportunity to do so, whatever their background.

“These recommendations open up new avenues for more flexible study and lifelong learning, which employers and our economy need. But we need to ensure the government doesn’t close the door on student choice by cutting funding and restricting access to university.

“With around 300,000 new places needed at universities over the next decade as the 18-year-old population rises, it is more important than ever to ensure we maintain investment in our world-leading sector.

“Further discussion must now take place across the sector and government, including the devolved administrations. Universities UK will consult with its members on the feasibility and impact of the recommendations and ensure they benefit students, employers and communities across all four nations of the UK.”