Shakira Martin, President of the National Union of Students (NUS) has thanked Philip Augar for listening and putting the needs of students, particularly further education students, at the heart of his independent review into Post-18 Education and Funding, published today (Thursday 30 May 2019).
While there are some recommendations NUS disagrees with, Ms Martin has praised Dr Augar for recognising the hardships and difficulties the current funding system places on today’s students, and the barriers it puts in front of prospective students, especially those from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Speaking on the eve of the launch of the report, she said:
“The Augar Review is a genuine opportunity to address the barriers to access in FE and HE, including the debt aversion caused by high fees, high living costs and the lack of maintenance grants. We fought hard for this Review to happen and are pleased that the panel has responded to our concerns and those of the millions of students and prospective students who have or will face these challenges.
“We remain committed to free education and, this report makes a number of steps in the right direction. We strongly welcome the proposed re-introduction of maintenance grants and increased resources for disadvantaged students; the reduction in tuition fees to £7,500 – providing that government contributions do increase to ensure teaching remains well funded; and the recommended investment in a further education sector starved of resources for too long. Crucially, we believe the report is right to recognise FE as of equal standing to HE and that its resourcing should reflect this parity of esteem.
“But we reject the premise of “low value” and “high value” courses and are concerned about the proposed rationalisation of further education provision – we must ensure courses, campuses and institutions across HE and FE remain viable and society doesn’t become exclusively focused on narrow economic returns.
“This is a very detailed Review and we will continue to analyse its recommendations and contribute to the debate on its implementation. Given the current political instability at Westminster we urge the Government to provide a full response as quickly as possible as both students and the education sector need certainty about the future.”