HE Policy Update


Student Loans

Labour party analysis of Treasury figures suggests that student loan write-offs will rise to £20bn per year by 2048-49. Student loan write-offs will rise to £20bn by 2048-49, Labour warns (The Guardian​).

Labour and fees

Lord Mandelson’s speech to UUK last week warned that cutting university tuition fees to £6,000 a year could trigger a rise in foreign students to plug the funding gap, squeezing places available for British teenagers. Cutting tuition fees could reduce college places for Britons, warns Mandelson (The Times).


BIS criticism on alternative providers

A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee has criticised how BIS handled the privatisation of higher education, concluding that the department ignored repeated warnings about the potential abuse of public money. MPs criticise lax oversight of £1.2bn higher education expansion  (The Guardian).


Maintenance loans

An extensive look at how “the squeezed middle” are facing financial difficulties in affording HE for their children because they earn too much for a full maintenance loan – which in many cases does not meet the full costs of attending universities (such as accommodation and living expenses). Parents lose their car paying price of university  (BBC News).

Student loan system – ‘unsustainable’ 

Professor Nicholas Barr, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has warned that the current student loans system under which graduates start repayments once they earn £21,000 a year is unsustainable. He said repayments should start at £18,000 a year to avoid massive increases in taxes or cuts to university finances. Expert warns ‘unsustainable’ student loan system could leave £1bn unpaid, (The Independent).


The APPG on Migration has published a report warning that British universities are now losing out in the global race to attract international students, in particular to other Anglophone countries with more attractive post study work opportunities such as; the United States, Australia and Canada.  Post-Study Work Opportunities in the UK – New report warns UK at risk of losing foothold in crucial international student market (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration).


Nurse review

Fears about the objectivity of Sir Paul Nurse’s review of the research councils may be eased by the announcement of an advisory board containing a number of prominent sector figures. Advisory board to help steer Nurse review of research councils (THE).


Office for Fair Access (OFFA) has published their strategic plan. It reported that a record number of 22,000 teenagers from poor families went to university in 2011. Under OFFA’s plans, this number should rise to nearly 40,000 within five years. They have also singled out highly selective universities, calling on them to do more to widen their intake. The Russell Group has responded to the surprise target, saying that they were keen to open their doors to more students but could do only so much if teenagers were not leaving school with the necessary grades. Universities told to double intake of poor students (The Times), Offa: no cap, no excuses on poor students, (THE).


Labour outline tuition fee plan

Ed Miliband today announced that if elected, Labour would cut university tuition fees in England to £6,000 per year from autumn 2016 in a speech on how the next Labour Government will support young people. He announced that the policy would be funded by reducing tax relief on pensions for those earning over £150,000 per year. The Labour leader also announced an increase of non-repayable maintenance grants by £400 per year to cover students’ living costs. However, these grants are only available to families with a total income below £42,000.  Labour promises to cut tuition fees to £6,000 (BBC News), Miliband announces £6K tuition fees pledge (THE).