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03/06/2010
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Universities and further education

The Government believes that our universities are essential for building a strong and innovative economy. We will take action to create more college and university places, as well as help to foster stronger links between universities, colleges and industries.

  • We will seek ways to support the creation of apprenticeships, internships, work pairings, and college and workplace training places as part of our wider programme to get Britain working.
  • We will set colleges free from direct state control and abolish many of the further education quangos. Public funding should be fair and follow the choices of students.
  • We will await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to: – increase social mobility; – take into account the impact on student debt; – ensure a properly funded university sector; – improve the quality of teaching; – advance scholarship; and – attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.
  • We will review support for part-time students in terms of loans and fees.
  • We will publish more information about the costs, graduate earnings and student satisfaction of different university courses.
  • We will ensure that public funding mechanisms for university research safeguard its academic integrity.

Your comments (34)

  1. Sam says:

    Well if you want to ‘attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds’ then you cannot increase fees, it would be a complete and utter travesty to up them for all involved.

  2. Rachel Chilvers says:

    Hi,

    A small comment, I am a graduate and am lucky enough to be paying back the last of my loan this year. However when i phoned up to pay the remainder i was told that i had to calculate the amlunt myself from my previous statement (dated april 2009, which is only recieved 2009) and what i had paid over the year! Now in May 2010, i was unsure of this amount i had paid over the year (bonus and monthly deductions etc) so I had to wait weeks to receieve my P60 from work ,so i could work out how much i owed!

    This seems to be the case for the whole system… surely this should be formed like a bank account!? If i calculated the amoung incorrectly e.g. overpaid or underpaid how would the government know- perhaps only 1 year later if at all? seems there could be a saving here?

  3. Jon says:

    You don’t make clear whether you will retain the new Post 16 commissioning system placing Local Authorities at the centre of the process or replace it with an alternative

  4. John Rogers says:

    That is a very minimal mention of research there – do you think universities are schools for big people?

  5. Steve says:

    Of course you can increase fees and still widen participation, as long as you have a workable (ideally national, not uni by uni) bursary system. At the moment the system provides massive massive subsidies to the middle and upper classes who happily spend thousands per year on their children’s education between 5 and 18, so what’s another three years?

  6. Tom Black says:

    I would like to see more schools and colleges to be set up, with the information (guidance) in British Sign Language.

    I would like to see part time or full time students postgraduate (deaf and disabled) to have a grants to help them to achieve to become teachers, or become barristers, solicitors, or doctors etc… Many deaf students have barriers to receive a qualification (postgraduate). This is my concern.

  7. Gordon McAlpine says:

    Are the current plans associated with the Local Authority led strategic 16-19 commissioning frameworks to be altered in any way including the relationships with the LSC’s successor agencies (YPLA and SFA)?

  8. Hannah says:

    Steve, no idea what you are on about but those who are middle/lower class actually get a substantially higher amount of money in grants (which do not have to be paid back) than in loan (which does have to be paid back) just like they also get EMA during A Levels. Just because some parents earn a lot doesn’t mean they pay for their children’s education.

    I’m all for tuition fees but I think the increase needs to be very gradual in order to keep students in university and not to deter so many from going. Research funding is to be cut drastically as it is, and I know many who are concerned about attending university when fees could potentially be doubled or more.

  9. Brian Dunne says:

    At a time of high unemployment it makes sense to train the workforce for the future; but provison for FE and Adult Ed has been cut. Will you reverse the cuts in funding for adults in Further Education?

  10. Malcolm says:

    Surely the Liberal Democrats should be allowed to vote against proposals they object to. In this scenario an abstention is effectively a vote for a proposal.

  11. Jacqui says:

    What we need is a reform of charible donations so more people can leave money in the form of bursaries – as in the US.

    And why do we have this obsession anyway that the only way to learn after 18 is at a University! Surely we should encourage more young people into learning ‘on the job’?

  12. karen says:

    agree with Jacqui’s comment – why are we obsessed that the only way an 18 year old is going to learn is at University? what about ‘hands-on’ experience? encourage internships and apprenticeships this would create productivity and allow those from a less fortunate background to gain knowledge and practical experience to generate income.

    so many graduands hit a brick wall – they have the ‘degree’ but no job to go too. i only overheard two students dicussing today that one of their fellow graduate didnt know what they were going to do. all those years of studying to ….. exactly, to what??

    however, in contradiction to that to improve our economic state i would expect a certain level of education to move the economic market forward – i ask, where do we go from here?

  13. Nancy Shepherd says:

    As a teacher and proof-reader, I’d like to say how much I am enjoying reading this document, not only for its content, but because of the accurate use of the English language, e.g. sentence structure, spelling and punctuation! As far as the topic is concerned, I don’t think extra university places are necessary; rather, I applaud the proposal of more apprenticeships and internships. A university education is not suitable for everyone – many people would prefer, and benefit from, more practical courses. Finally, in general, as a longtime Liberal supporter, I am delighted with the coalition and the way MPs now seem to be co-operating.

  14. Melissa Smith says:

    So will the 2009 14-19 strategy still be implemented? And will the revised Diploma still exist and develop?

    I agree with Jacqui, University does not suit all Young People’s learning styles, and as a Graduate myself with many friends who are Graduates, going to University does not necessarily help you get into your chosen career path, Postgraduate Education is very costly and financially unobtainable for most; many graduates end up doing adminstrative work; many have to start from the bottom within their industry of choice and work their way up due to lack of work experience; and many would have been better and more successful quicker by going straight into work after leaving school.

    Other alternatives of Further Education need to be established, or University qualifications to have more relevance to actual job roles instead of just subject area.

  15. Ben says:

    @Rachel the old loans were like a bank account – trouble was the default rate – that’s why the new scheme introduced repayment via PAYE to stop people “disappearing”

  16. Robyn Brockie says:

    My biggest issue is the fact that LibDem MP’s (or any other MP for that matter) should not be allowed to ‘abstain’. People have voted them in and expect them to decide what is better – a yes or a no. Not to say ‘I can’t decide’. Make a decision and use your vote – it’s what they told us to do for the general election, after all!

    On the matter or raising tuition fees I have to say I am against any proposed rise and feel that if the UK allows Scotland to provide free university places then England should too. I accept this cannot happen overnight but other options should be explored.

  17. Matthew Styles says:

    This is barely anything to do with education at all, let alone university education.

    Every policy put forward during the elections and even now are all regarding the cost of education, or the jobs our graduates will have, or the internships which will be made available to them.

    What about those of us who are at university for the pure love of our subject? We know we’ll leave in debt, and we’ll work out a way to pay for it. We’re not concerned about apprenticeships being made available to us because we plan on going into research.

    Ultimately, students out there want a good quality education. This means looking into things like teaching delivery, the use of e-learning, the community feeling in university, the sharing of knowledge between academics from all ends of the spectrum, from undergraduate to professor. I’d like to hear more about perhaps schemes to improve student feedback (or feed forwards might be a more appropriate term), representation, academic appeals, access to facilities and resources and so forth.

    Even as far back as applying to university. It needs to be made clear to students the facilities which will be made available to them, the resources they’ll have access to, and for many people, the contact time they’ll have and in what form this will be. There are students out there receiving as little as 4 hours a week of contact time, whilst I’m on about 25. Then there’s the quality of teaching, the training provided to those wanting to teach at university and so on and so on.

    It’s not that I’m not interested in a debate on tuition fees, graduate prospects or the chance of me finding a year placement in industry, but for the most part, I really don’t think any political party has any real policies on “education”.

  18. Josie says:

    I am a mother of four and two of my children have either completed their university education or embarking on it. When completing their student finance the amount of money they receive is based on my income. Therefore because my husband and I are both working and middle income earners, my children receive diddly squat and I have to pay them £450 per month, to enable them to live a way from home to access good university courses of their choice, but also that are appropriate for their level of intellect. However from the age of 18, my children are no longer classed as dependents, child benefit ceases and the amount of grant they receive is based on my income. Is this not a double standard?Therefore the way that students are financed is discriminatory against middle income families because if you can’t afford an additional mortgage, your child is forced to stay at home and maybe access a local university because of finances rather than choice. At the top universities, the lower income students recieve substantial funding because of their income and for the wealthy, the money is not an issue. My concern is that both of my children are in relationships with graduates. They are therefore both likely to have a joint debt of approximately £20 – £30k despite my supplement. How are our debt ridden students supposed to make an econmically sound start to their lives with this hanging over them? and also how are debt ridden middle income families trying to do their best for their children also carve out an economically sound future. Degrees don’t guarantee jobs and there needs to be some honesty in relation to how many jobs are available in this country and what level of education is appropriate to undertake them. My eldest son who as a 2:1 degree and studying for a masters was lucky to get a job at a fast food out let. The amount of young people studying because of the economic climate are doing so because of the current lack of jobs and therefore masking the true unemployment figures.

  19. Jackie says:

    I just wanted to say how complicated the process is to apply for student finance. I also do not understand why the funding for 2010/2011 is based on income for 2008/2009 and not 2009/2010. In our case and, I’m sure, many others, this will have a huge impact, given that my husband was laid off and his income dropped by over 17,000 for the year.

  20. Matthew Styles says:

    @Jackie – Just to note, that if you phone Student Finance and tell them this, then they’ll take the more recent income into consideration. I was in the same situation myself this year just gone, and they had no issues taking 2 lots of evidence. It does seem strange to ask for income from 2 years ago though.

  21. Robyn Brockie says:

    @ Jackie and Matthew – I could be wrong but I ‘think’ that the reason Student Finance ask for the earlier years income evidence is to do with when you apply and where that date is in the tax year. If you apply before the new Tax year they can’t ask for 2009/2010 as that tax year has not ended. My problem was that my partners interest on savings had to be considered and we had nothing to show this for 2008/2009 as he’d moved his money and closed that account and the bank said there was no easy way to get a statement done. So Student Finance accepted that the evidence for 2009/2010. I’d ring them and explain Jackie – you may get sorted.

  22. Brenda says:

    The recent cuts by the previous government in Apprenticeship funding rates for 2010/11 in the 19plus age group and the 25% rate cut if the training is delivered for Apprentices employed by large employers (1,000plus) is a bitter pill to swallow for a SME. We have worked with our largest national employer to create jobs/Apprenticeships for unemployed young people 19plus over the past year. As the training provider we will take the cut in revenue and as it also applies to carryover
    Apprentices who were taken on in good faith under the existing funding regime our revenue will take a large decline thus putting jobs at risk. Will you continue with this policy as does not offer the incentives for training young people on Apprenticeship programmes in large companies?

  23. Ian Swain says:

    There is a lack of clarity about who will manage the planning/commissioninmg process for 14 (16) – 19 in a local authority area. There is a lot of hype about localism in other parts of the statement, but in this section there is nothing. Is it because you see the revamped FEFC as the vehicle for doing this? If so does this not fly in the face of what is contained elsewhere?

  24. A priority for the Coalition Government must be making the FE and HE systems accessible and supportive for disabled students. Cuts to access and support would have a disproportionate affect on this group as without education, skills and qualifications disabled people are significantly less likely to get a job. Protecting funding for this group across the system will lead to better life chances, alleviation of poverty and savings for government on welfare benefits.

  25. borrowd says:

    We should abolish tuition fees and then we would get round the issue of allowing EU students to take out a student loan and the resulting issue of trying to recover the debt when they move overseas and try to evade making repayments. We have to give loans under EU legislation but EU law does nothing to help countries recover outstanding amounts. I should add that I’m not anti- EU students and accept most will repay what they owe, but we can’t afford as a country to give handouts to those who don’t.

  26. Michelle says:

    I understand that all Lib Deb MPs have personally signed a pledge promising to oppose any increases in tuition fees. This was not a Liberal Democrat policy, this was a personal guarantee. Their individual integrity will be in tatters if they do anything other than oppose any increases – they promised a ‘new politics’ – at the end of the day if your word is worthless, what else do you have left ?

  27. Jayne Walter says:

    I have several issues with vocational learning as listed below:
    1) Programme led Apprenticeships can be a good way of getting employers to permanently employ an apprentice why is this being stopped
    2) When will private training providers be able to have direct contracts instead of being pushed to partner with colleges that ultimately limit budgets because of top slicing? Normally these partners meet niche markets such as NEET, disadvantaged and disabled learners and do not have the opportunity to expand and enhance learning because of economic pressure applied to them. Would it not be a good idea to have ring fenced funding for partners of colleges if they can’t have direct contracts because of public sector staffing issues.
    3) When will 19 to 24 funding for apprentices be guaranteed the same as 16-18 as there is the same demand and if the person has an employer surely this is another person off the NEET list.
    In conclusion apprenticeships give people the chance to have one to one learning and I have seen so many learners who come from school without literacy and numeracy skills excel with this method of learning but it must be expanded to other age groups.

  28. Jayne Walter says:

    I have several issues with vocational learning as listed below:
    1) Programme led Apprenticeships can be a good way of getting employers to permanently employ an apprentice why is this being stopped
    2) When will private training providers be able to have direct contracts instead of being pushed to partner with colleges that ultimately limit budgets because of top slicing? Normally these partners meet niche markets such as NEET, disadvantaged and disabled learners and do not have the opportunity to expand and enhance learning because of economic pressure applied to them. Would it not be a good idea to have ring fenced funding for partners of colleges if they can’t have direct contracts because of public sector staffing issues.
    3) When will 19 to 24 funding for apprentices be guaranteed the same as 16-18 as there is the same demand and if the person has an employer surely this is another person off the NEET list.
    In conclusion apprenticeships give people the chance to have one to one learning and I have seen so many learners who come from school without literacy and numeracy skills excel with this method of learning but it must be expanded to other age groups.

  29. Lorraine Williamson says:

    With all the planned cuts to FE collages, what chance has my daughter, who has additional needs, to gain qualifications and get meaningful employment? When I talk about Person Centered Planning and her hopes and dreams, this way of working doesn’t seem to be understood.
    I want collage to let her try everything, so she can have true choice.

  30. Paul says:

    It is vital that we preserve and build upon the fact that the UK has four genuinely world-leading universities (Imperial, Oxford, UCL and Cambridge). The unique importance of these institutions must be reflected in funding decisions.

  31. Tim says:

    An old comment but one I feel must be made, is that many of those now proposing increases in funding did not actually have to pay for their education they got it free. I find that morally very confusing – double standards possibly. I also fail to see where the equitability is, in that Scotlands students get a free education (which I do support but only if it is extended to all UK students hopefully) which English taxpayers are helping to pay for, whilst English students in England must pay. Mmm smakcs of double standards again.

    I realise financing of education is important, but to me, education is not just about Universities, don’t forget to include those that could never do well in academia or academic circumstances. We have already thrown parts of more than one generation to waste because of this, let us make sure that this time we cater for all and ensure that everyone REALLY has a chance to train for work, unlike the past whereby those with little academic ability but loads of other ability have been overlooked and undersold. Too many people recount experiences whereby they were overlooked and as a result have been forced to undertake menial work for the rest of their lives.

    We should be seeking to preserve all educational establishments not just the promotion of egalitarian establishments who have a higher proportion wealthy students than most Universities. So lets see education being properly planned and funded, from Nursery through scools to apprenticeshipships studentships and finally into work.

  32. Eva Gander says:

    I have been gripped by politics in the last few months in a way I never thought possible.In my 50’s I went to university as a mature student and recieved an independant grant.I studied a subject picked for interest rather than the prospect of a glittering career,I enjoyed it hugely and also the 16 years I worked in my field before retraining as a teacher.I was never wealthy and cannot see how I would ever have managed to pay off the amounts of money young people are expected to find.Surely at base ,universities are centers of excellence in their field,with the research and writing,publication and creativity of the people employed there at the peak of their powers.They are not degree factories for churning out in the fastest time possible ever increasing numbers of BA’s.

  33. Richard says:

    I would like to see degree courses cut to 2 years rather than 3. it would concentrate the minds of students who currently see uni as a 3 year-long party before joining the real world. It would also cut the burden of student loans substantially. I would also question the need to push so many children into university, many who are not necessarily suited to it. Being away from home is a maturing experience but I’m unsure of the educational value for reasons mentioned above.

  34. Ruth says:

    Universities are the bedrock of the UK’s international reputation for research. The research that happens within Universities in Britain is vital in many ways. University-based research underpins the UK’s position in science, the arts, technology, health care and a host of other areas. We must support and protect these areas to ensure that the UK can exit the recession as swiftly as possible.

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