Our Policy Position
Our response to the post-18 education and funding review said that the system must be fair to individuals and provide enough resource to allow institutions to deliver high quality education and training. Government must ensure that students have enough money to support themselves whilst they are studying and we support the reintroduction of maintenance grants as a way of achieving this.
For HE, income contingent loans have proved to be a largely effective model of cost sharing while providing sufficient funding to sustain high quality teaching and investment. They have worked well for young, full time entrants and have supported increasing levels of participation for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our principle concerns with the current system are that it has not worked to support part-time higher education, that the loan system is insufficiently flexible and has stifled innovative delivery modes of study such as accelerated degrees.
To address some of the issues of the current system, we have consistently called for student loan reform to allow funding to be offered on a per credit basis, rather than the current annual calculation. This would allow students to be more flexible about their mode of study, and providers could be more innovative in their delivery.
We think part-time HE needs a different funding model of lower fees topped up with extra teaching grant. This would reflect the generally lower cost to the public purse because most part-time students are working.
We argue that an effective post-18 education system needs to be supported by comprehensive, impartial information, advice and guidance so that students can make informed choices and that its costs should be spread fairly among government, learners and employers.
We also argue that assessments of value for money should take account of higher education’s broad range of economic, cultural, social and intellectual purposes, not just in relation to graduate earnings. Our Policy Manager Kate Wicklow is currently undertaking a PhD looking at how students conceptualise value for money in their learning experience.