Universities UK responded today to the Policy Exchange report which recommends redirecting up to £500m from universities grant funding into Further Education to boost higher level professional and technical education.
Responding to the report, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Making such cuts to higher education would be a false economy. The UK has one of the best higher education systems in the world and our universities are critical to developing the highly-skilled workforce our economy needs.
“It should not be seen as an 'either-or' choice between further education and higher education. A number of further education colleges have successfully delivered degree-level courses for a number of years, often in partnership with universities. Universities are also actively involved in the delivery of new, industry-designed degree apprenticeships, with apprentices splitting their time between university study and the workplace.
“Universities have the facilities and the innovative links with employers that help give UK companies a genuine competitive edge and create high value jobs for employees.
“Skilled graduates are increasingly in demand. We know also from employers that they value the skills they find in our graduates. Latest figures show that 94% of graduates are in work or study three-and-a-half years after graduation, and over 80% of those employed are in professional, graduate jobs.
“It is misleading to suggest that universities are awash with cash reserves. The increase in the fee cap in England to £9,000 was largely a replacement for cuts in direct government funding. Fees, also, do not cover the cost of high-cost subjects such as science and engineering.
“Universities are required to maintain minimum surpluses. Without these, universities would be unable to deliver the scale of investment required to meet student demands, build capacity and ensure that the sector can remain internationally competitive. Universities also need capital investment to invest in world-class facilities and to leverage additional funding from external sources.”
The Policy Exchange report, Higher, Further, Faster, More, will be published on Monday atwww.policyexchange.org.uk/
According to recent research from the UK Commission on Employment Skills (UKCES), there will be 7.8 million additional high-skilled jobs between 2012-2022.
Latest data from HESA show that 87.9% of UK domiciled leavers surveyed were in employment 3½ years after graduation. 6.0% were in further study only and 2.6% were unemployed.
According to the CBI/Pearson education and skills survey 2015, 88 per cent of employers are reported to be either satisfied, or very satisfied with graduates’ technical skills.