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IOE academics respond to the Augar Review as part of higher education sector event

4 July 2019

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) professors Lorraine Dearden and Claire Callender have been responding to the Augar Review on post-18 education in a WonkHE event on the subject.

UCL campus Print Room Cafe

The Augar Review was published in May 2019 and focused on the cost and value of higher education and further education. It aimed to create a joined up post-18 education that works for students and taxpayers.

Among the recommendations of the report were:

  • the reduction of higher education tuition fees to £7,500 per year, with the Government replacing the lost fee income by increasing teaching grants;
  • extending the student loan repayment period from 30 years to 40 years;
  • reducing the income threshold for student loan repayments from £25,000 to £23,000;
  • reintroducing maintenance grants of £3,000 for disadvantaged students.

Professor Dearden took part in a discussion examining the costs of these and other proposals and expressed broad support for the Augar recommendations, particularly the call to re-introduce maintenance grants. She argued that one way for the Augar Review to achieve its objectives would be by targeting loan interventions at those studying towards professions that need protecting, such as teachers and nurses.

Lifelong learning and further education

The event also explored the implications beyond the higher education sector to lifelong learning and further education. Professor Callender contributed to this discussion by arguing that the report fails to confront head-on the decline in part-time student numbers and that far more radical and bolder changes are needed.

Professor Callender argued that as the part-time study recommendations focus on those who do not already have a publicly-funded or publicly-supported degree, only a small group of students are likely to benefit and the changes will not stop the decline in part-time provision in universities. She noted that those already with a degree will still not be able to get student loans to reskill and obtain another undergraduate qualification.

Professor Callender said: “Lifelong learning, according to the Report, is restricted to those who don’t already have a degree. This is lifelong learning for the few not the many.

“The Report and its recommendations are unlikely to kick start or boost part-time provision in universities. Indeed arguably the changes help to confine part-time provision to Further Education. The report talks of ‘cared for’ and ‘neglected’ students – regrettably, the vast majority of part-time students remain neglected.”

‘Counting the cost: Augar, HE and the future of post-18 education’ was held at Imperial College on Tuesday 2 July 2019.

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