Likely further education policy changes under the new UK government

Introduction   On the 5th July a new Labour government came into power in the UK. This is expected to bring significant changes to many parts of the economy as the new government has significant issues to address across health, education, and welfare, with limited funds available given the commitment to only limited tax changes and the high cost of servicing debt that has significantly risen in recent years. This implies that the heavily subsidised further education industry in the UK is likely to be under reform. There is a lot of anticipation about what changes are afoot. However nothing major is yet announced. In this article, we outline our predictions on what will change, and provide an opinion on the impact they might have.   Summary of further education plans, – Labour manifesto Equalise education The core aim is to equalise education and training opportunities, as stated inthe manifesto title itself “breaking down the barriers to opportunity…”. This is further confirmed in the  clear statement of intent “Labour…must focus on closing gaps in outcomes between children eligible for free school meals and their more advantaged peers” and a graphic of the “attainment gap” between the most and least deprived. We can clearly see that the main attention within the education manifesto is on primary and secondary school age (i.e under 18 years old). However, the education itself is clearly not a priority spending area and main focus will be on the healthcare system.   Devolve further education budget decisions There is a clear desire to devolve responsibility to regional authorities, “(Labour will) devolve education budgets to current and future Mayors and combined authorities to …deliver on local skills needs and priorities”.   Crowd-in the private sector There is brief mention of a desire to crowd-in the private sector in relation to green skills, “unlock new jobs…supported by private investment in the industries of the future”.   Outcome-based assessment There is a clear commitment to shift assessment of government funded training providers to an outcome-based approach. “Labour will set high expectations and…develop outcome agreements to ensure clear accountability for skills spending, which aligns to economic priorities”.   Analysis Equalising opportunity Unsurprisingly, we are absolutely in favour of the Labour mission within education. It is not only “fairer” to equalise opportunity but a massive waste of talent to not use the productive capability of the less wealthy majority. The UK has a productivity issue, with a UK worker producing only £60 worth of goods and services per hour compared to £71 in the US and Germany. A solution to this problem is to make the labour market more competitive, ensuring those with the best capabilities to perform a role are able to, rather than restricting this to just those whose family wealth has given them the opportunity to do so.   Budget primarily to schools rather than further education In an ideal world there would be budget for everything at once, however this is not the reality. The school system should

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Funding Your Students

      A guide to the funding landscape for education providers.    Introduction   Education and training is crucial but the cost is unaffordable for most. For education provider this means they need to find ways to subsidise or defer the cost of their course to expand their addressable market. There are a range of government and private sector funding options available, however the mechanics and pros and cons of each of these are often opaque. This article attempts to shed light on the different options. We are not unbiased observers. We provide the infrastructure that enables many UK higher education providers to offer their course in exchange for a future payment, including pioneering the UK’s first “royalty” style payment option. This has given us broad exposure to how education providers are funding their students and their confusion over which funding options are available. As well as contact with the UK’s Department of Education and Treasury. This article is an attempt to provide practical insights into the various schemes available. If you notice something that is incorrect please let us know so we can update it.   Government funding options for education providers Student Loan Company What is it? Funding for education that provides upfront funding directly to universities in exchange for students repaying a share of their income until the amount of funding is repaid plus any accrued interest. Introduced to increase university participation and make this education pathway affordable for everyone. Now the Department of Education has more nuanced aims, as many universities would not survive if this funding was removed, and many UK towns are dependent on the economic benefits that the university provides. This means the scheme not only supports the students and the universities, but all of the local businesses reliant on student’s as their customers such as cafes, gyms, student housing and supermarkets. Covers undergraduate fees and a maintenance loan. In England this was typically between £8,400 and £13,348 for the 2023/24 academic year. Students can utilise this option if studying at an eligible UK university. These Universities then have to accept a cap on the fees they charge. Some universities who don’t accept the fee cap can still be partially funded through this scheme. Able to be used for Masters level degrees with a maximum paid of £12,167 for courses in the 2023/24 academic year. This funding can be used for course fees or living expenses and universities for which it can be used are not subject to a fee cap on their post-graduate courses. Doctoral level degrees are similar to Masters-level degrees, however the amount paid was £28,673 for the 2023/24 academic year. The Conservative party had planned to extend this to non-university courses in January 2026 by enabling individuals to borrow up to £37,000 to be spent on a wide range of courses called the Lifelong Learning Entitlement.   Pros Significantly increased university participation across the UK, from 14% of 18-21 year olds in 1980 up to 36% in 2023.

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