Driving up quality, increasing choice and ensuring value for money are at the heart of a major review of post-18 education, launched by the Prime Minister today (19 February).
The UK already has a globally recognised higher education system, with record rates of young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to university. Work is also underway to transform technical education post-16 by introducing new T levels – providing high quality technical qualifications to rival traditional academic options – and overhauling apprenticeships to help provide the skills our economy needs for the future.
Although significant progress has been made, it is clear that the current post-18 system is not working as well as it could be – for young people or for the country. The review will ensure that post-18 education is giving everyone a genuine choice between high quality technical, vocational and academic routes, students and taxpayers are getting value for money and employers can access the skilled workforce they need.
Speaking at Derby College, a further education college which offers apprenticeships and higher level learning, the Prime Minister warned against “outdated attitudes” that favour academic over technical qualifications and pledged to use the review to look at “the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, to create a system which is truly joined up.”
The wide-ranging review will be informed by independent advice from an expert panel from across post 18 education, business and academia chaired by Philip Augar, a leading author and former non-executive director of the Department for Education. It will focus on the following four areas:
- Choice: identifying ways to help people make more effective choices between the different options available after 18, so they can make more informed decisions about their futures. This could include more information about the earning potential of different jobs and what different qualifications are needed to get them, as well as ensuring they have access to a genuine range of high quality academic, technical or vocational routes.
- Value for money: looking at how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies, to ensure funding arrangements across post-18 education in the future are transparent and do not stop people from accessing higher education or training.
- Access: enabling people from all backgrounds to progress and succeed in post-18 education, while also examining how disadvantaged students receive additional financial support from the government, universities and colleges.
- Skills provision: future-proofing the economy by making sure we have a post-18 education system that is providing the skills that employers need. This is crucial in boosting the UK economy and delivering on the government’s Industrial Strategy.
The government’s reforms to the higher education system, implemented through the new Office for Students, are going further than ever before to deliver for young people. This includes holding universities to account for the teaching and outcomes they deliver and shining a light on institutions that need to do more to widen access from disadvantaged groups.
In October last year, the Prime Minister announced that the government would freeze tuition fees for 2018/19 and increase the amount graduates can earn to £25,000 before they start repaying their fees, putting money back into the pockets of graduates.
The full terms of reference are available here.