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Independent panel suggests changes to Post-18 education in England

With the goal of a joined-up Post-18 system in England that works for everyone, an independent panel led by Dr Philip Augar has published recommendations to the UK Government on what needs to change in the current FE-HE system.

The panel makes 60-odd recommendations – spanning skills, higher education, further education, apprenticeships, student finance and support for living costs. Its core message is that in the interests of fairness, equity, society and the economy, the UK Government needs to address the ‘neglected’ half of the 18 to 30 year-old population who do not go to university, and older non-graduates.

Among the many recommendations are capping full-time tuition fees at £7,500 from 2020/21, a lifelong learning loan allowance for tuition fee loans (including loans for modules) and changes to the ELQ (Equivalent or Lower Qualification) policy on loan eligibility.

Though the Prime Minister stands down next week, the panel’s views will help inform the ongoing UK Government review of Post-18 education and funding, currently underway and due to report in advance of November’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Professor Mary Kellett, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said:

“The Prime Minister was very clear when she launched England’s Post-18 Review that flexible lifelong learning, including part-time and distance learning, needs to be encouraged.  

“Today’s recommendations to the UK Government by Philip Augar and his panel are a positive step forward. The proposal to create a lifelong learning loan allowance that supports people of all ages to acquire the skills they need would be a massive boost for all who need to fit their study around work, family and other responsibilities. Maximising the potential of our existing workforce is essential if we are to achieve a sustainable supply of skills to meet the ever-evolving needs of business, industry and the public sector.

“Flexible must mean flexible though. Distance learning, such as that offered at the OU for the past 50 years, has flexibility at its core. It supports those in work to earn and learn, wherever they live and work, and means people of all ages and all backgrounds can benefit from life changing learning. We urge the UK Government to ensure that study and maintenance support will be available to all students from all backgrounds whatever mode of study they choose. This absolutely must include distance learners. The Open University is keen to work with the UK Government to ensure that any new policy decisions work for all students.”

Find out more

Read the report in full here

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