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What did Theresa May announce last week...?

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Last week, the Prime Minister announced a review of post-18 education and funding. But what does it actually mean?

This is sold as an in-depth review of all post 18 education and the way it is funded but it has also been seen as an attempt to kick the problems into the long grass and beyond the next election. Some suggest this is to give political cover against the more popular Labour Party position of ending tuition fees among other changes to HE. But what are the problems the review is attempting to address in its own words?

Why do it?

There are few reasons given for the review, first it is attempting to change the perception that university is the only desirable route to take post-18. They Government want to do this by breaking down the boundaries between the different post 18 routes, to bring about the competitive market that the 2012 changes were intended to create. It aims to provide better support for disadvantaged students and the half of young people who don’t go to university, and finally attempt to link the cost to the quality of a course.

How?

The way the review will attempt to achieve these goals is by aiming at four key target areas which are;

  • To make tertiary education accessible to everyone

  • To look at how choice is incentivised

  • To see if tertiary education is delivering the skills the country needs

  • Examine the value for money the funding system provides

Problems with the review

The main issue being raised around this review is the goal of not forcing students to decide against a particular course based on it being too expensive, while also linking pricing with 'quality'. This creates the obvious problem of the highest 'quality' courses costing the most and putting them out of reach of the most disadvantaged students. It also creates the problem of measuring 'quality', if it is going to be directly linked to the cost of courses the metrics that measure 'quality' need to be robust and agreed on by sector leaders.

Although we're mentioning cost, don't get into a panic just yet. Your fees have been frozen and should avoid any rises...

We'll be keeping you up to date with this as more news comes out, but for now if you want to know more, check out the response from the NUS here.

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