The Augar Post 18 Review is a review of post-18 education and funding in England. Here is a link to our Sector Response article about the Augar Review.
The independent panel was led by Dr. Philip Augar (the official "Post-18 review of education and funding: independent panel report" can be found here). This has been a highly anticipated review and is a massive 216 page document, chocked full of recommendations and findings. So we thought it could be helpful to break up the relevant sections and highlight the key recommendations from the Augar review findings for you.
The Post 18 Review is split into eight sections, Chapter 2 was dedicated to Skills, Chapter 4 to Further Education and Chapter 5 to Apprenticeships. The recommendations from the Augar review are listed below:
Chapter 2 was dedicated to Skills:
The government should introduce a single lifelong learning loan allowance for tuition loans at Levels 4, 5 and 6, available for adults aged 18 or over, without a publicly funded degree. This should be set, as it is now, as a financial amount equivalent to four years’ full-time undergraduate degree funding.
Learners should be able to access student finance for tuition fee and maintenance support for modules of credit-based Level 4, 5 and 6 qualifications.
ELQ rules should be scrapped for those taking out loans for Levels 4, 5 and 6.
Institutions should award at least one interim qualification to all students who are following a Level 6 course successfully.
Streamline the number and improve the status of Level 4/5 qualifications.
The OfS should become the national regulator of all non-apprenticeship provision at Levels 4 and above.
Government should provide additional support and capital funding to specific FE colleges in order to ensure a national network of high quality technical provision is available. Government should work with the OfS to determine how best to allocate this using, for example, quality indicators and analysis of geographic coverage.
From 2021-22 the fee cap for Level 4 and 5 qualifications currently prescribed by the OfS should be £7,500 – the same as that proposed for Level 6 qualifications and in line with current arrangements for prescribed HE qualifications. Longer term, only kitemarked Level 4 and 5 qualifications that meet the new employer-led national standards should be able to charge fees up to the Level 6 cap and be eligible for teaching grant. From that point, any other Level 4 and 5 courses should have a lower fee cap.
The current age cap should be removed so that a first ‘full’ Level 3 is available free to all learners whether they are in work or not.
Full funding for the first ‘full’ Level 2 qualification, for those who are 24 and over and who are employed should be restored.
The careers strategy should be rolled out nationally so that every secondary school is able to be part of a careers hub, that training is available to all careers leaders and that more young people have access to meaningful careers activities and encounters with employers.
Chapter 4 is the Further Education section of the report:
The Augar review gave a vision for England’s FE colleges in the future:
A national network of collaborative FECs that provide high quality technical and professional education with a clear focus on Levels 3, 4 and 5, delivered flexibly and aligned to the needs of local economies. FECs will maintain strong relationships with employers and assist in driving productivity. As engines of social mobility and inclusion, FECs will also provide community learning, reskilling and upskilling opportunities for adults leading to sustainable career opportunities.
The unit funding rate for economically valuable adult education courses should be increased
The reduction in the core funding rate for 18 year-olds should be reversed.
ESFA funding rules should be simplified for FE colleges, allowing colleges to respond more flexibly and immediately to the particular needs of their local labour market.
Government should commit to providing an indicative AEB that enables individual FE colleges to plan on the basis of income over a three-year period. Government should also explore introducing additional flexibility to transfer a proportion of AEB allocations between years on the same basis.
4.5.1 Government should provide FE colleges with a dedicated capital investment of at least £1 billion over the next Spending Review period. This should be in addition to funding for T levels and should be allocated primarily on a strategic national basis in-line with Industrial Strategy priorities.
4.5.2 Government should use the additional capital funding primarily to augment existing FE colleges to create a strong national network of high quality provision of technical and professional education, including growing capacity for higher technical provision in specific FE colleges.
4.5.3 Government should also consider redirecting the HE capital grant to further education.
4.6.1 The structure of the FE college network, particularly in large cities, should be further modified to minimise duplication in reasonable travel to learn areas.
4.6.2 In rural and semi-rural areas, small FE colleges should be strongly encouraged to form or join groups in order to ensure sustainable quality provision in the long term.
Government should develop procedures to ensure that – as part of a collaborative national network of FE colleges – there is an efficient distribution of Level 3, 4 and 5 provision within reasonable travel-to-learn areas, to enable strategic investment and avoid counterproductive competition between providers.
Investment in the FE workforce should be a priority, allowing improvements in recruitment and retention, drawing in more expertise from industry, and strengthening professional development.
The panel recommends that government improve data collection, collation, analysis and publication across the whole further education sector (including independent training providers).
The OfS and the ESFA should establish a joint working party, co-chaired by the OfS and ESFA chairs, to align the requirements they place on providers and improve the interactions and exchange of information between these bodies. The working party should report to the Secretary of State for Education by March 2020.
FE colleges should be more clearly distinguished from other types of training provider in the FE sector with a protected title similar to that conferred on universities.
Chapter 5 is dedicated to Apprenticeships:
The report highlights some interesting details, such as in 2017/18, 70% of Apprenticeships started by people aged 25 and over:
Subjects studied 155,500 (41 per cent) of the apprenticeships started in 2017/18 were by people aged 25 or over. A further 113,700 (30 per cent) were started by those aged between 19 and 24, meaning that over 70 per cent of apprenticeships were started by people aged 19 or over. The remaining 106,600 (28 per cent) apprenticeships were started by those aged under 19.33 Younger apprentices were far more likely to be new recruits, with 90 per cent of those aged under 19 recruited specifically to an apprenticeship. The comparable figures for older people are 70 per cent of those aged 19-24 and only 20 per cent of those aged 25 and over.34 CVER research has also found that the earnings returns to apprenticeships for those aged 19-24 is around twice that of those aged 25+.35 We understand that older workers are more likely to be ‘rebadged’ as apprentices and we question whether this always represents good value in the programme.
Here are the key recommendations:
The government should monitor closely the extent to which apprenticeship take up reflects the priorities of the Industrial Strategy, both in content – including the need for specific skills at Levels 3 through 5 – and in geographic spread. If funding is inadequate for demand, apprenticeships should be prioritised in line with Industrial Strategy requirements.
The government should use data on apprenticeships wage returns to provide accessible system wide information for learners with a potential interest in apprenticeships.
Funding for Level 6 and above apprenticeships should normally be available only for apprentices who have not previously undertaken a publicly-supported degree.
Ofsted become the lead responsible body for the inspection of the quality of apprenticeships at all levels.
No provider without an acceptable Ofsted rating should receive a contract to deliver training in their own right (although a provider who has not yet been inspected could subcontract from a high-quality provider pending their own inspection).
The IfATE and the DfE (through the ESFA) should undertake a programme of work to better understand the barriers that SMEs face in engaging with the apprenticeship system and put in place mechanisms to address these, including raising awareness of the programme and making the system easier to navigate.
The IfATE improve transparency when processing standards that have been submitted for approval. Trailblazer groups and providers should have a clear indication of progress, available on-line, so they can start to plan, recruit and invest within workable timelines.
All approved providers of government-funded training, including apprenticeship training, must make clear provision for the protection of learners in the case of closure or insolvency.
So what do you think? What do you think of the recommendations by the Augar review? Would you add any additional recommendations, are there potentially too many recommendations for Government or for policy makers to deal with?