Vice-Chancellor responds to higher education announcements in the summer budget
08 July 2015
In the Summer
Budget, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures affecting higher education
in England, including:
student fee cap to inflation for universities that can show they offer
maintenance grants with loans for new students starting in the 2016/17 academic
year. These loans will have to be paid back once students earn over £21,000 a
Professor David Phoenix has responded to the announcements.
linked to funding:
the consultation regarding the Teaching Excellence Framework has yet to begin,
the announcement that it will be used to allow some universities to raise fees
in line with inflation was a surprise.
that recognises and rewards excellence in teaching and learning has great
potential to help further enhance our standing as a sector, but it must be fair
and equitable and without the details being known it is difficult to assess
whether this should be linked to pricing rather than direct reward as is the
case for research.
"There is a
danger that this becomes a crude tool to influence the market rather than a means
to truly engage with all universities around the enhancement of teaching and
learning to the benefit of our students and the sector as a whole."
grants becoming loans:
"It is vital
that funding is not perceived as a barrier to a university education, and
therefore it is positive that funding will still be available from a student's
first day of study in the form of the new maintenance loans."
half a million students in England currently rely on means-tested grants to
help cover living costs therefore it has to be a concern that the scale of the
loans some applicants would need might dissuade people from poorer backgrounds
and could have a disproportionate effect on institutions that have previously
been so important in making higher education accessible to their communities.
therefore essential that the impact of this change is kept under review to
ensure we do not inadvertently hinder those with the greatest need of support
and the government must take proactive steps to work with universities to
advertise the fact these loans do not have to be repaid until a student is
earning above the threshold of £21,000."