Higher education proposals offer little of substance, says IEA expert

Commenting on the government’s proposals for post-18 education and training, Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Today’s proposals offer little of substance.

“Lowering the salary at which students will start paying back loans may be justified, but charging interest at RPI rather than RPI plus 3 per cent and extending the payback period adds to the complexity of an already confused system.

“Keeping standard fees for all degrees fails to acknowledge that some degrees cost far more to deliver than others and that students get varying levels of face-to-face teaching and value-for-money.

“The crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees is also problematic. Capping courses with less than 75 per cent completion rates, and/or with less than 60 per cent of leavers in graduate jobs will lead to universities manipulating statistics in order to avoid their numbers being capped.  

“Higher minimum entry standards to university would also likely conflict with the Office for Students’ demands for universities to take on more disadvantaged students, and are therefore likely to be full of exceptions.  

“If we want universities to pursue employability, raise academic standards, and only accept students who have commitment and a reasonable chance of success, university income should be linked to the success of their graduates.

“One way to do this is by a risk-sharing arrangement, where universities receive a share of graduates’ future earnings rather than a guaranteed payment from the Student Loans company. But no such radical thinking is on the cards.”


Notes to editors

Contact: Emily Carver, Head of Media, 07715 942 731

IEA spokespeople are available for interivew and further comment.

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