The Augar review: UCEM response

A reduction in annual tuition fees from a maximum of £9,250 to £7,500 per year alongside improved funding and flexibility for vocational training are perhaps the significant outcomes from the Government-commissioned review into education and funding headed by Philip Augar, which was released today.

Ashley Wheaton, UCEM Principal, commented: “2010’s hike in permissible fees made it harder for people from less privileged backgrounds to enrol at university and left those who did with significant student debt. The subsequent reduction in maximum fees chargeable recommended by the Augar review would increase access to education for many people and in my view this would be a very positive step in terms of social mobility.

“It’s also a positive that the report calls for the restoration of maintenance grants for students with lower income. The Government, however, must ensure that sufficient total funding remains in the system to maintain the delivery of high-quality education, particularly in specialised subjects, where there is high demand from industry.

“The extra support and flexibility promised for vocational learning is much-welcomed. We see from the sustained growth in UCEM’s online programmes and apprenticeships that students appreciate the opportunity to realise their potential in the built environment at a reasonable cost, whilst working and earning, and without an additional student accommodation liability.”

Another takeaway from the report was the recommendation to introduce a lifelong learning loan allowance which would be open to mature students as well as school leavers.

“The average age of a UCEM student is 30.5 and we have learners aged through to their 60s so it’s really pleasing to see allowances made for mature students in the report,” Ashley added. “There does need to be a careful and further evaluation of the recommendations around degree apprenticeships however, most notably the appointment of a single inspection body. I’d also urge a further review of the recommendations around eligibility for degree apprenticeships.

“The central recommendations of the review are very well aligned with UCEM’s core values of accessibility, relevance and cost-effectiveness and, as such, we are fully supportive.”