Staffordshire University: recommendations to change fees and grants could take years to be implemented

Bosses at Staffordshire University say a review of education funding is an opportunity to open debate - but say it could take years for anything to change.

The report, Dr Philip Augar, makes a wide range of recommendations including more support for further education, the reintroduction of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, and a tuition fee cut to be made up by government funding.

Professor Liz Barnes, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, said: “The key point to stress to potential students and parents is that these are recommendations which do not yet form Government policy. The contents of the report will need to be considered in the light of Brexit, a change of leadership in Government and the Comprehensive Spending Review. There is a long way to go, in a climate of great uncertainty, before any of the recommendations are implemented.

“Higher education remains of significant benefit to students, with graduates having higher rates of employment and earnings than non-graduates. A change in tuition fees will be welcome to students and families but it is essential that funding is made up to universities from elsewhere as recommended in the Review. Any reduction in finance will impact on teaching and the student experience.

“I welcome the proposed reintroduction of maintenance grants as a support to disadvantaged students who make up a substantial percentage of our student body. The grants must recognise the particular circumstances of part-time and mature students to ensure the lifelong learning vision is achieved.

“Greater support for vocational and further education, and an approach to learning throughout life, will be of benefit to people across the country and to the national economy. Partnerships between universities and colleges are the future for vocational training and will be in the best interests of all, not just those who would have made up the traditional student body.

“We do have concerns about the proposal to cut financial support for Foundation Years. We find that Foundation Years provide a valuable platform to those who may not have the educational background to enter directly into a degree and any loss of Foundation Years will harm access to higher education for many of the most disadvantaged people in society.”

The Review of Post-18 Education and Funding will be considered as part of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in Autumn, with any changes not expected to be implemented before 2022.

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