Our response to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review sets recommendations for how the government and specialist and smaller higher education providers can work together to achieve socioeconomic recovery from the pandemic and longer-term growth for individuals, professions and places throughout the UK.
- Ensuring strong and innovative public services requires a diverse and sustainable higher education sector.
This requires meeting the full cost of higher education teaching for high-cost subjects and ensuring all students regardless of background continue to have access to higher education, both of which are essential to delivering strong public services. Specialist and smaller universities, colleges and other higher education providers are the applied research and education specialists for important public and economic sectors such as art, design and media, music and the performing arts; agriculture and food; education and teaching; law, business and finance; the built environment; health and sports.
- Levelling up requires real understanding of local inequalities so that places around the UK can thrive.
This requires listening to expertise developed in different communities in coastal, rural and urban locations throughout the UK. Smaller institutions know their regions well and will be a critical part of generating economic growth in those areas hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic and with potentially the longest road to recovery. They should be supported through fairer innovation funding to channel national and international opportunities to their places and professions. This includes doubling the size of the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to £500m and rapidly introducing the full UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
- Delivering the Plan for Growth throughout the UK requires a fair and ambitious approach.
This requires flexible funding for the people who will drive socioeconomic growth: the students, researchers and their institutions. This includes ensuring that credit based learning is rolled out efficiently and effectively and that maintenance grants are reintroduced for disadvantaged students throughout the UK so that they can achieve strong outcomes. This includes increasing the amount of quality-related (QR) research funding and devolved equivalents, ensuring that all rise with at least inflation each year and committing to further rounds of Expanding Excellence in England research fund.
At the same as publishing our SR21 submission, we have published two blogs:
- How gaps in student maintenance loans affect attainment and graduate outcomes by Dr. Kate Wicklow, Policy Manager, GuildHE
- The Local and Regional Impact of Small and Specialist Universities by Haleema Masud, Policy Support Officer, GuildHE
We will continue to explore the themes and ideas laid out in our submission over the coming months through further blogs, think pieces and reports.
However, it’s clear that the higher education sector is well-positioned to support the recovery and growth of all parts of the UK. It’s equally clear that levelling up means investing across the full spectrum of teaching, research and development in order to achieve success for people and place. This Spending Review offers the chance to do things differently and to ultimately build Britain back stronger and prepared to face the challenges of the ‘20s. Specialist and smaller higher education providers can be a linchpin in that change.