Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, calls on the government to make funding for higher education both fair and sustainable...
The role of higher education in this country is crucial. It provides the nation with the skills it needs and plays a vital role in supporting local economies.
It is not a private commodity. It is an essential public good.
As of January 2018, the new higher educational regulator in this country is the Office for Students (OfS). It is designed to champion the interests of students, promote choice and help to ensure that students are receiving a good deal for their investment in higher education.
Sir Michael Barber, who is the head of the organisation, sparked concern with his recent comments in a recent interview with The Guardian.
He said: “The OfS will not bail out providers in financial difficulty. This kind of thinking – not unlike the ‘too big to fail’ idea among the banks – will lead to poor decision-making and a lack of financial discipline.”
It is worrying that the new regulator suggests they will not support universities experiencing financial difficulties. Allowing such an institute to fail would cause significant harm to its students, graduates and the local area.
This country needs a system which protects the interests of students and institutional funding.
Philip Augar, a leading author and former non-executive director of the Department for Education, has been asked to conduct a review of post-18 education and funding. His report will focus on choice, value for money, access and skills provision. It offers a key opportunity to overhaul the current system predicated on student debt.
The findings of this report could lead to the fair and sustainable higher educational system that the students in this country deserve.
Wera Hobhouse said: “Sir Michael Barber’s comments are really worrying. Universities are not like banks. To say the OfS won’t provide financial support as a matter of principle sets a dangerous precedent. Students in this country should not be punished. They deserve greater security.”
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