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Browne Review recommendations a step in the right direction for the knowledge economy

The Work Foundation welcomes yesterday’s publication of the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance. The recommendation to lift the cap on higher education fees will help universities deliver up to 10% more graduates in the next four years.

The recommendation to give part-time students the same financial support as full-time students is particularly welcome as it will dramatically increase the pool of potential future graduates.

A recent report by The Work Foundation Shaping up for innovation: Are we delivering the right skills for the 2020 knowledge economy? shows that long-term demand for university graduates will increase in the next decade, driven by growth in the knowledge economy. Research from The Work Foundation has repeatedly shown that ‘knowledge intensive’ industries have led every previous recovery and these areas will once again lead this recovery. Given the current state of public finances, current arrangements cannot hope to support this.

Charles Levy, researcher at The Work Foundation commented, 'Browne’s recommendations offer a way forward for the sector. If implemented they could allow universities to deliver the graduates which our future knowledge economy will need. The higher education sector needs a funding system which can sustain the current influx of students.'

Associate director Ian Brinkley added, 'This should not simply be a licence for universities to charge more but to transform the undergraduate experience to ensure that graduates are fit for future jobs including fundamentals such as interdisciplinary working, creativity, entrepreneurialism and innovation.'

The Work Foundation also welcomes the fact that the reforms will offer the public sector the strategic flexibility to invest in ‘high priority courses’ rather than the current blanket support approach.

Brinkley continued, 'However our research shows the risks associated with the recent narrow government focus on the number of places on science, technology, engineering and maths courses - this is not necessarily delivering graduates with the breadth of qualities demanded by employers. If public investment is to increasingly focus on these areas then it is vital that more incentives are used to develop the graduates with the full range of skills needed by the future economy.'

Notes to editors

  1. Shaping up for innovation: Are we delivering the right skills for the 2020 knowledge economy? by Charles Levy and Laurence Hopkins is available at This paper is produced as part of The Work Foundation’s Knowledge Economy programme:
  2. Author Charles Levy and associate director Ian Brinkley are available for interviews and briefings.
  3. The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.
  4. The WorkWorld Media Awards 2010 call for submissions is open until 1 November.

Media enquiries:

Gideon Benari 020 7976 3584 or 07825 527 040

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