The higher education representative body GuildHE has called for the introduction of a fairer system of higher education funding and student support, with greater student choice and more contribution from those who can afford it.

The system should create a closer link between tuition fees and the cost of different courses, overseen by a new  “Charity Regulator” to ensure fairness and support access.

In its second piece of evidence submitted to the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance, led by Lord Browne, GuildHE calls for the introduction of a national bursary scheme funded by contributions from institutions, and for the cap to be lifted on the number of students institutions can enrol without them facing a penalty.

But in giving more student choice, even as far as allowing full cost places to be offered to Home and EU undergraduate students, GuildHE looks for greater means-testing, so that those with the ability to pay do so. Wealthier families would pay a fairer share of the costs of higher education so the public purse could focus on the needs of the more disadvantaged.

Other recommendations in GuildHE’s submission include:

• Banding fees according to subject and level of study, with the upper limits in each band set by a “Charity Regulator”  that would also set thresholds for repayment

• Creating a new “Education Bank” – significantly changing the current Student Loans Company – to pay grants, loans and bursaries to students in monthly instalments, undertake means-testing and collect any repayments

• Interest on student loans should be charged at fair market rates, with a discount offered for early repayment and quicker repayments demanded once a graduate starts earning above a certain threshold

• Fees for part of a course are proportionate to the whole so that part-time courses are more cost-effective

• Urgent introduction of better guidance for students on HE choices, costs and student support

Alice Hynes, Chief Executive of GuildHE, said, “Our recommendations seek to strike a balance between creating a workable and affordable HE and student support system, and one that is also fair and maximises student choice and opportunities.

“We think it is vital that all those who are qualified and able to benefit from higher education should be able to do so, and should not be shut out either for financial reasons or because of Government restrictions on the number of places.

“Equally, we believe it would be wrong to let the market entirely dictate the future development of HE and its funding system. Quality controls must remain in place, and the new regime must allow a diverse range of HE institutions to be sustained so that students have a wide choice of study options.”

GuildHE’s submission to the Browne Review 

Read John Gill’s article in the Times Higher

For more information, please contact:
Alice Hynes
GuildHE Chief Executive
Tel: 020 7387 7711

Tony Tysome
Media FHE
Tel: 01629 650910

Notes to editors

1. The functions suggested for the “Charity Regulator” highlight a number of functions presently provided by OFFA and some of those newly passed to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) from the Charity Commission. It would have a role in approving private HE institutions to be eligible for its students to have access to loans within a publicly supported national system. 

2. GuildHE CEO Alice Hynes will give evidence to the Browne Review meeting on Thursday 20 May 2010 in Bristol.

3. GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here