On 19 February 2018, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced in a speech that there would be a “wide-ranging review into post-18 education” led by Philip Augar. The review is to look at how future students will contribute to the cost of their studies, including “the level, terms and duration of their contribution.” The Prime Minister discounted the idea of moving back to a fully taxpayer funded system. It is expected that the review will report in early 2019.
The Prime Minister said that universities are better funded now “than they have been for a generation”. She also argued that recent reforms have fairly shared the cost of higher education between the taxpayer and students, and enabled the Government to lift the cap on the number of places available. However the Prime Minister expressed disappointment at the lack of a competitive higher education market, with no variable tuition fees according to cost, quality and length of courses.
The review is to look at how future students will contribute to the cost of their studies, including “the level, terms and duration of their contribution.” The Prime Minister discounted the idea of moving back to a fully taxpayer funded system. It is expected that the review will report in early 2019.
This page will be updated as the review progresses and includes links to related briefing papers.
The terms of reference for the review were published on 19 February 2018. These are set out below:
The review will focus on the following issues:
Choice and competition across a joined-up post-18 education and training sector:
- How we can help young people make effective choices between academic, technical and vocational routes after 18, including information on earnings outcomes and the quality of the teaching they receive.
- How we can support a more dynamic market in provision, taking into account reforms already underway, whilst maintaining the financial sustainability of a world-class higher education and research sector.
- How we can encourage learning that is more flexible (for example, part-time, distance learning and commuter study options) and complements ongoing Government work to support people to study at different times in their lives.
- How to ensure the market provides choice with higher-level degree apprenticeships and shorter and more flexible courses, in particular accelerated degree programmes, and supporting innovative new institutions that can drive competition.
- How we can ensure that there is world-class provision of technical education across the country including through the new Institutes of Technology.
- A system that is accessible to all:
- How we can ensure that people from disadvantaged backgrounds have equal opportunities to progress to and succeed in all forms of post-18 education and training.
- How disadvantaged students and learners receive maintenance support, both from Government and from universities and colleges.
- Delivering the skills our country needs:
- How we can best support education outcomes that deliver our Industrial Strategy ambitions, by contributing to a strong economy and delivering the skills our country needs.
- Value for money for graduates and taxpayers:
- How students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies including the level, terms and duration of their contribution, while maintaining the link that those who benefit from post18 education contribute to its costs.
- Ensuring that funding arrangements across post-18 education and training are transparent and do not act as barriers to choice or provision, considering how best to promote institutional efficiency and value for money for students and taxpayers.
- How the Government and institutions communicate with students and graduates around student finance, ensuring this communication is as clear as possible (consistent with the relevant legal requirements) about the nature and terms of student support.
The recommendations of the review will be guided by the need to:
- Maintain the principle that students should contribute to the cost of their studies while ensuring that payments are progressive and income contingent;
- Continue with the reforms in train to build a strong technical and further education sector that encourages the skills that we need as a country;
- Place no cap on the number of students who can benefit from post-18 education; and
- Support the role of universities and colleges in delivering the Government's objectives for science, R&D and the Industrial Strategy.
The review will not make recommendations related to the terms of pre-2012 loans or to taxation, and its recommendations must be consistent with the Government's fiscal policies to reduce the deficit and have debt falling as a percentage of GDP.