Comment on on the Governments response to the Augar Review

‘Following the Government’s response to the Augar Review, we welcome the consultation on the introduction of a life-long loan entitlement for those looking to study courses at Levels 4-6. The Government has repeatedly argued that the provision of higher technical education (Level 4-5)is a key part of a high wage high skill economy. However, currently, learners looking to enrol on higher technical education courses are not eligible for the equivalent loans provided to those on undergraduate degrees. Our ongoing research into higher technical education has shown uptake in has shown a decline of 32% in the uptake of this education 2015/16. The availability of loans as part of a more streamlined funding system is undoubtedly a step towards reversing this decline.

However, the Government must still be clearer around its plans for higher technical education. For instance, who is the target market for these higher skills? The implications of a life-long funding entitlement for learners suggest these reforms are targeted towards older learners looking to reskill. However, is there any guarantee older learners are going to be willing to take on a debt of up to £37,000? Furthermore, the Apprenticeship Levy provides funding for employers to take on apprentices without the need to pay it back. The offer for Level 4-5 therefore still falls far short of this. Competition with apprenticeships may minimise the impact these reforms will have on higher technical education takeup. Finally, is there evidence that the demand from employers for Level 4-5 qualifications really exists? Fixing the funding system to have parity with degrees is only one step, but the Government still needs to be clearer as to what problems it is trying to solve.’

Collab Group colleges look forward to engaging with Department for Education in the consultation. We've recently released a blog on this topic, read it here.

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