The Augar Review of post-18 education and funding - commissioned by the Government - was published on 30 May 2019 and has received widespread media coverage nationally.
Here’s an initial overview of what’s in the report, what it might mean for the University and what happens next.
The report recommends a number of reforms to technical and vocational education, apprenticeships and the further education (FE) system.
For universities, it recommends that:
- Universities need to address the issue of low value degrees and increase the number of courses better aligned with the economy’s needs.
- The tuition fee cap should be reduced to £7,500 per year, with universities making efficiency savings, a reintroduction of maintenance grants and more targeted funding for disadvantaged students.
- The student funding system should continue to be based on loans, but needs to be clearer, with changes to repayment periods and repayment thresholds.
The Prime Minister welcomed the report, agreeing that the current system is bad for social mobility and economic prosperity, and identifying the need for parity of investment and choice across HE and FE.
The Russell Group of research-intensive universities (which includes Warwick) responded with an initial analysis highlighting a number of risks including uncertainty on funding and the risks of funding cuts to creative arts and social studies, impact on widening participation and difficulty in implementation.
Sector body Universities UK made an initial response highlighting a number of issues, including potential restrictions on access and choice based on narrow conceptions of value, and whether future funding will be allocated in a way that allows universities to continue offering diversity and choice.
What does the report mean for Warwick?
Internal analysis is underway and will be considered through the University’s Steering Committee, with the following areas appearing to be particularly noteworthy to Warwick:
- The potential impact on fee income.
- The potential benefits to funding for courses that are considered to reflect social and economic value to students like STEMM, business and economics, and departments working closely with industry.
- The risks to courses considered to have poor retention, poor employability and poor long-term earnings.
The sector will now be consulted on the recommendations and the University is considering how we should engage in the next stage of the review. The forum for further consultation is currently unclear but there is expected to be more clarity in the coming weeks.