Tom Richmond

       The government should split the Higher Education sector into ‘local’ and ‘national’ universities

 

With ministers expected to outline major reforms to the Higher Education (HE) system in England in the coming weeks, a new report from education think tank EDSK calls on the government to break up the homogenous HE sector to ensure that it delivers better value for students, taxpayers and local communities. The report called ‘Value-able lessons recommends that the government splits the sector into ‘local’ and ‘national’ universities to give HE institutions a clearer purpose and mandate.

   The report identifies several ways in which the behaviour of some universities has contributed to the narrative of ‘low value’ degrees. Subjects and disciplines such as Leisure studies, Media studies and Design & Creative arts received funding increases of over 30 per cent after tuition fees were raised to £9,000 in 2012 and many of these courses have seen enrolments increase since then. In addition, the quadrupling in the number of students recruited onto ‘foundation year’ courses from 2012 to 2019, with a questionable focus on ‘Business and administrative studies’, has also raised doubts about the motivation of the institutions involved.

However, the report finds that the government’s current approach to assessing the ‘value’ of HE will lead to inaccurate and unreliable judgements about courses and institutions. The analysis in the report shows that the value of a degree or university cannot be measured by the salaries and employment rates among past graduates or the drop-out rates of current students. Relying on these indicators to judge the value of courses and institutions will also undermine the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda by penalising universities based in areas of the country with the poorest employment prospects for graduates.

At the same time, the government cannot ignore the strain that the HE system is placing on the public finances. The mountain of unpaid student debt reached £161 billion last year and is forecast to pass £500 billion by the mid-2040’s. Even so, politicians cannot complain that some students choose supposedly ‘low value’ degrees and universities that leave taxpayers with this huge financial burden because the earnings threshold for repaying student loans has been raised from £10,000 to £27,295 over the past twenty years. Such a high threshold makes choosing a degree or university essentially risk-free for students, even if it offers them little ‘value’ either now or in future.

The report concludes that government, universities and students all have a role to play in ensuring that the HE sector produces ‘high value’ degrees and institutions across the country. The EDSK report recommends that:

  • By the 2023/24 academic year, all universities should be required to formally designate themselves as either a ‘local university’ or ‘national university’ to reflect their primary purpose as an institution.
  • ‘Local universities’ will become the engines of local economic growth, social mobility and lifelong learning by delivering courses at degree and sub-degree level that promote civic engagement with the local community and support employers in collaboration with FE colleges.
  • ‘National universities’ will focus on providing degree-level courses and research programmes that are targeted at students with higher prior attainment from across the country as well as attracting international students.
  • To incentivise universities to deliver ‘high value’ degree courses, the Government should introduce a new system of ‘accreditation’ for degrees. To be ‘accredited’, a degree must either be approved by local employers, a professional body, an independent awarding organisation or delivered in partnership with local colleges. Any non-accredited degrees will have their funding cut by £1,500 per student.
  • Only ‘local universities’ will be permitted to offer foundation year programmes in future. Foundation years will also have their tuition fee cap reduced to £6,000 to create better value for students and taxpayers.
  • To encourage students to seek out the courses and institutions that will offer them the greatest value, the repayment of student loans should be based on a new ‘tiered’ set of repayment thresholds starting at 3% for earnings above the income tax threshold (£12,570) rising to 9% for earnings above £22,570. The repayment period for student loans should be also extended from 30 years to 40 years.

Tom Richmond, Director of EDSK and a former advisor to ministers at the Department for Education, said:

   “Universities can undoubtedly make a major contribution to local, regional and national prosperity, yet the behaviour of some institutions has led to a perception among policymakers and politicians that they are more interested in attracting tuition fee income than they are serving their students, local communities and society as a whole.

“Splitting the sector into ‘local’ and ‘national’ universities as well as giving each type of university a clear purpose and set of responsibilities would make the value of HE more apparent to students, employers and local communities. This new approach would also help reassure ministers and taxpayers that all universities are focused on delivering ‘high value’ degrees that are worthy of the billions invested by government in the HE sector every year.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Maliha Safiullah has published a new article: How to Get a Scholarship: 10 Tips for Success 20 hours 35 minutes ago
AELP Webinar Team added a new event 22 hours

Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers – Refresh 2021

Overview It has been nearly two years since the ESFA refreshed the current Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, therefore it is time for...

  • Thursday, 14 October 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page