Auguring the future

20 Mar 2019 01:49 PM

In his spring statement, the chancellor Phillip Hammond outlined that we can soon expect the long awaited outcome of the Augar Review.

The ‘Review of Post-18 Education and Funding’ sets out to look at how students in the future will contribute to the cost of their studies, including ‘the level, terms and duration of their contribution’, looking at both the type of learning available and the modality it is funded through for this age group. This will, as the title suggests, affect all post 19 learners, so it has a reach far beyond those looking at their options outside of compulsory education. This must involve all aspects of technical and academic education.

The scope of the review is wide, looking into the advice that young people receive about technical and academic options, maintaining a dynamic post 18 offer that is accessible to all, whilst still ‘best deliver value for money for graduates and the taxpayer’.

It will also link into the ongoing work on the adult retraining scheme, looking at how we can maintain skills levels in longer working lives, and the challenges new innovation such as automation will bring to the workplace.

Speculation is, as one would expect, rife, with Wonkhe setting out that ‘the sticker price [for a degree] cut that could go as low as £6,500 for most students, with STEM courses priced at £13,500. This premium level reflects both the costs involved in running an intensive lab-based subject, and the extra earnings expected for graduates.’ This has led to criticism that this may lead to a 2-tier education system, with less pastoral support available for students.

The other major leak so far has been the idea that would stop post 18 learners qualifying for a loan if they didn’t get three Ds at A-level, the idea here being that it would be a disincentive for Higher Education as an option for learners for whom it may not be entirely appropriate. The obvious downside for this is that it prices an entire cohort of learners out of the Higher Education system, without addressing the issue of price inflation of degree programmes.

These leaks are notable as they focus on the Higher Education side of things, but not at what the Technical education sector could offer as an alternative.

In a recent White Paper, we outlined our recommendations for the Augar review;

  1. Introduce a system of credit based funding - making it easier for providers to design and deliver radically new and student-friendly models of higher education.
  2. Foster retraining at Level 4-6 through part-time fee loans - Fee loans should be made available to enable adults to achieve a second Level 4, 5 or 6 where that second qualification is part of a career plan.
  3. Create a learner-led post-18 funding system - that invests in all adults equally and puts learners and future learners in the driving seat through an equal lifetime entitlement.
  4. Increase financial incentives for apprentices aged 16-24
  5. Introduce maintenance loans for 19-24 year olds on first full Level 3 courses - To create a step change in participation by 19-24 year olds on full-time T-levels, and full-time and part-time Access to HE, A levels and other Level 3 qualifications, a national system of maintenance loans should be introduced.
  6. Reinstate the 100% funding rate for 18 year old FE students - ending the anomalies in funding between the FE and HE sectors, starting with the cut in funding rates for 18 year olds on courses Level 3 and below - a policy finely targeted on the less advantaged.

With the review publication imminent, we hope that the Technical education sector is empowered through Augar’s recommendations to provide better post-18 options for all learners.