GuildHE responds to IUSS committee report: students and universities


Ruth Farwell, Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University and new Chair of GuildHE said :

“The matters explored by the Select Committee are important to us – there is a lot here for the sector to consider. A number of the recommendations have very serious implications which would have to be very carefully thought through.

In GuildHE we work successfully with students from a huge range of backgrounds, many of whom are mature and returning to study from the workplace or from responsibilities at home. In giving evidence to the Select Committee, the outgoing Chair of GuildHE, Professor David Baker, pointed out that, in financial terms, such students get a raw deal. He said,

‘We are still stuck in a mindset that assumes the vast majority of students are full-time and 18 years old. Life is simply not like that.’

So GuildHE welcomes the fact that the Select Committee has made a series of recommendations to improve the treatment of, and support for, part-time and mature students.

We also welcome the suggestion that the Government should consider a national bursary scheme. Our member institutions work very hard to make sure students are aware of the financial support available to them. But it’s unfair that the amount of financial help a student receives relates to their place of study not their need. The lucky dip aspects of the present bursary system make it harder for students to commit to higher education and to plan ahead. It discriminates against the very students that we want to bring into higher education.

We are committed to widening participation. We believe that students should be able to have complete confidence in the standards and quality of provision wherever they choose to study. We believe that applies in our universities and colleges. But we would be glad to engage in any further work needed to explain more clearly to the wider public what it is that we do, what our students achieve and why we are so proud of it.