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University funding and fees panel identifies key areas before election

6 January 2015

The Student Funding Panel published today an update paper highlighting the issues emerging from the panel’s work so far. The panel was established last year by Universities UK to consider the design of the current student fees and loans system in England.

As the main political parties finalise their manifesto commitments before May's general election, the panel is urging politicians to take into consideration these issues when forming their policies on higher education. 

The panel – made up of policy experts from outside the sector alongside a number of university vice-chancellors – is aiming to report its full set of findings in Spring 2015, before the election.

Having issued a public call for evidence last August and held a number of evidence sessions with prominent people involved in higher education and policy (including NUS President Toni Pearce, former universities minister and Labour cabinet member John Denham MP, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Nick Hillman, as well as others), the paper highlights the emerging issues and outstanding questions for the panel.

Some of the issues/questions identified in the paper include:

  • A recurring question emerged: how can the system best deliver value for money for students, but also provide stability in funding for universities and be financially sustainable for government?
  • Evidence submitted to the panel so far suggests the 2012 reforms have been a contributing factor to a decline in more flexible forms of higher education
  • Questions have been raised about whether the total amounts to be repaid under the current system and the length of the repayment period could be adjusted
  • Is there a link between the reforms, student satisfaction and teaching quality?

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, President of Universities UK and chair of the panel, said: “There has been a lot of commentary recently about the long-term financial sustainability of the current funding and fees system in England.

“We need more evidence on how the system can best deliver value for money for students, encourage greater participation of part-time and mature students and provide a stable funding environment for all universities.

“The panel is aiming to make its final recommendations this spring. With the general election in May, we hope all political parties take into consideration the issues identified by the panel when forming policies on higher education.”

Members of the panel include:

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Universities UK President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Surrey
Will Hutton, Chair of the Independent Commission on Fees
Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
Emran Mian, Director of the Social Market Foundation
Mike Rowley, UK Head of Education, KPMG
Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, University of London
Professor Paul O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor, University of Roehampton
Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Chair of the Universities UK’s Funding Policy Network and Vice-Chancellor, University of Bath
Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Reading
Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

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