Department for Education
In February 2018, Theresa May announced that there would be a “wide-ranging review into post-18 education” led by Philip Augar. This new review of Post-18 Education and Funding presented to Parliament in May 2019 drew evidence from an extensive literature review of post-18 education provision and funding, 370 submissions to the panel’s call for evidence, a study of post-18 education costs and 330 individual meetings with expert witnesses. The panel proposed:
Strengthening technical education
Improved funding, a better maintenance offer and a more coherent suite of higher technical and professional qualifications.
Increasing opportunities for everyone
40% of 25-year olds do not progress beyond GCSEs as their highest qualification. The panel wants to encourage adult education by reversing cuts in adult skills provision and encourage part-time learning.
Reforming and refunding the FE college network
An additional £1bn capital investment over the coming spending review period and investment in the workforce to improve recruitment and retention.
Bearing down on low value HE
The authors argue that there is a misalignment at the margin between England’s high education system and the country’s economic requirements. The panel recommends encouraging universities to adopt more low value degrees and to incentivise more courses aligned with the country’s economic needs.
Addressing higher education funding
The authors recommend reducing the maximum fees for students from £9,000 a year to £7,500.
Increasing flexibility and lifetime learning
The report endorses the government’s National Retraining Scheme, which we believe to be a potentially valuable supplement to college-based learning.
Supporting disadvantaged students
Better financial support is needed to assist the country’s most disadvantaged. The panel would like maintenance grants to be reintroduced for students from low income households.
Ensuring those who benefit from higher education contribute fairly
The panel supports the income-contingent repayment approach whereby those benefitting the most from higher education make the greatest repayment contribution.
Improving the apprenticeship offer
Apprenticeship learners should be provided with better wage return information, Ofsted’s role should be strengthened and a better understanding of the barriers SMEs face within the apprenticeship system is needed.