Today, Monday, 11 June, The Lords Economics Affairs Committee has published a wide-ranging report about the fairness of post-school education.

The main finding of the report is that higher education has grown sharply during the 21st century whilst technical education has not. In the report, they make a number of recommendations including reversing the decline of part-time and flexible learning, offering more choice and funding for other post school options and more.

Earlier today the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published their long-awaited report, “Treating Students Fairly: The Economics of Post-School Education.

The cross-party Committee, with former Chancellors, Permanent Secretaries to the Treasury and leading business figures, has made a series of recommendations relating to the funding of post-school education.

The main finding of the report is that higher education has grown sharply during the 21st century whilst technical education has not. In the report, they make a number of recommendations including:

  • reversing the decline of part-time and flexible learning,
  • offering more choice and funding for other post school options, including non-academic education
  • reforming student loans and widening maintenance support

The Committee also call for radical reforms to the apprenticeships system including scrapping the three million apprenticeships start target because of its focus on quantity over quality and scrapping the Institute for Apprenticeships.

The report states, “…the system of post-school education in England is not a system, is unbalanced in favour of full-time university degrees, and as a result offers poor value for money to individuals, taxpayers and the economy. It requires immediate reform.”

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) has 90,000 students or which approximately 20% are apprentices, several of whom gave oral evidence to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee as it composed this report.

Although AAT does not agree with everything in today’s publication, it agrees that there is an unacceptable imbalance towards higher education.

Phil Hall, AAT Head of Public Affairs & Public Policy, said;

“Schools, colleges and often parents, spend too much time trying to force students down a path towards higher education that is often not wanted or needed. Young people must be able to make an informed decision and if they choose a professional or technical route, it needs to be properly funded.”

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said:

The way we expect students to access higher and further education is deeply unfair. We must create a single system, including apprenticeships, that offers more choice and better value for money.”

AAT has frequently called for an integrated online portal which brings together UCAS, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and other non-academic websites under a single managed service to ensure equal availability of information for all routes to employment.

Phil Hall explained;

“AAT agrees with Lord Forsyth about the need for access to different types of education through a single system. As we have repeatedly said, all post school education options should be brought together in a single online location that means young people receive information about all the various routes to employment at the same time, in the same place, in the same way.”

Finally, with regard to the Committee recommendation to scrap the 3m apprenticeship starts target, Phil Hall responded;

“AAT has always called for any apprenticeships start target to be matched by a completions target and for much greater effort to be put into guaranteeing quality. Given the poor quality of some apprenticeships and a dwindling completions rate, it’s not a huge surprise that this Committee has called for the three million apprenticeships target to be scrapped. However, it’s not clear what doing so now would achieve given there is less than 18 months left for the target to run.”

angela middleton2018 100x100Angela Middleton, Chairman and Founder of MiddletonMurray, said:

“Today’s report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee rightfully addresses the need to promote further education pathways as the number of students attending University continues to increase.

"The UK’s skill gap poses a serious threat to our economy and our productivity. It is vital that we expand upon the information available to people of all ages, ensuring that everyone is aware of alternatives to higher education.

"However, its recommendation to “scrap” the 3million apprenticeships target seems to me both short-sighted and at odds with its aim to boost the UK economy.

"To me, it is essential that the government works alongside employers, business leaders and companies of all sizes, to encourage uptake of the apprenticeship levy’s manifold benefits.

"I agree that all routes into higher education are equal and I will continue to work alongside policymakers to effect meaningful change on the UK’s education landscape.”

To read the report in full please go to the House Lords Economic Affairs Committee website

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