New analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies examines the changes to the student funding system announced in the July Budget.
Yesterday, The Open University announced plans to charge £5000 fees. A THE story claims that it puts OU in ‘pole position’ to snap up the 20,000 places that are being made contestably available for institutions charging less than £7,500. But these 20,000 places are for full time undergraduate students – currently all of OU’s students are counted as part-time, even if they are studying at a rate of 1FTE.
Where things get complicated are with OU-validated degrees in further education colleges. By putting these 20,000 places aside for low-cost courses, it is the intention of BIS to expand provision in FECs – either validated through a body like OU, or even funded directly. What no one knows for sure is the true extent of the demand for these courses. It must be remembered that these 20,000 places are just theoretical lines on a spreadsheet – they will not necessarily become students unless there is sufficient demand for the low-cost courses in the mix.
Today the Public Accounts Committee has released their report ‘Regulating Financial Sustainability in Higher Education’. It calls for greater regulation of HE after the new funding regime begins and raps BIS on the knuckles for getting their sums wrong over fees. It could make for uncomfortable, but probably not devastating reading in some parts of Government. And it adds weight to those who’ve been arguing for a long time that the Coalition’s fees policy doesn’t add up. This post has a look at some of the headlines from the report.
Last year, we were promised a white paper to bring together the Government’s vision for higher education post-Browne review and after the debate about fees had run its course. As we enter British Summer Time, it seems a good time to consider the status of this elusive document, originally scheduled for some time in ‘winter’. A few weeks ago we were told that its publication had been put back until the summer, to wait and see to how Universities responded to new OFFA guidance and how they set their fees. Since then, there has been mounting panic by the Government whose HE funding settlement with the Treasury depended on the average fee to be set at £7,500. As has been well documented elsewhere, the average is likely to be closer to £8,500 – which would see the Exchequer lose out considerably as they are forced to lend much more money than planned.