From education to employment

Professor Wolf: Remaking Tertiary Education could save £Billions

A report released today by the Education Policy Institute, titled ‘Remaking Tertiary Education‘ calls for more Level 4 and 5 qualifications or “sub-degree tertiary awards” to be delivered by Universities and FE Colleges. The report recommends a new national system of two- year, sub-degree programmes to offer an alternate replacement for HNC’s and HND’s.

The report, headed up by Professor Wolf, sets the scene for the importance of re-thinking Tertiary education “England’s tertiary education system is larger than ever before. It is also, in its current form, extremely expensive, and set to become ever more so. Students are incurring large debts, but so is the taxpayer. The large majority of students will not, on current trends, repay their loans in full, and the burden on the Exchequer is set to be several billion pounds for each and every annual cohort of students entering university. The contribution of student loans to net government debt is forecast to rise from around 4% of GDP today to over 11% in 2040“.

The report also highlights: “The adult skills budget is devoted overwhelmingly to lower-level qualifications, while in higher education HNDs and HNCs are tiny in number, and foundation degrees are in decline. This pattern of awards in England, as well as their institutional location, sets this country apart from practice in, say, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada or Finland. All of them have clearly defined intermediate tertiary pathways and institutions dedicated to their delivery.”

Responding to the Education Policy Institute’s report by Professor the Baroness Alison Wolf on the tertiary education system, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

“We need a comprehensive and coherent skills system that works for everyone. In order to achieve this, the Government needs to reach a better balance of funding in the education and training system. It is not enough to invest in full-time, three-year bachelor’s degrees if we are to meet the skills needs of our country. The economy would benefit from a system that works for all ages, whether young or old, in a job already or working towards getting a foot on the career ladder. Perception must change so that equal rating is given to academic, general, technical, vocational and recreational education and training.

“One way to work towards this would be to convert student loans into a personal learning account that could be accessed across a person’s lifetime, also including maintenance loans for all higher education courses.

“It will not be easy to make reforms in this area but we would urge the Government to take a considered and comprehensive look at the courses and qualifications available.”

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