The Education Select Committee on Value for Money in Higher Education: Our Response

5 November 2018

Today’s report from the Education Select Committee on Value for Money in Higher Education places a welcome focus on the need for greater flexibility within the higher education offer. It rightly recognises that the ‘one size fits all’ approach of 3 year full-time study often excludes those who need to balance learning with work or caring responsibilities, or with poor health or disability.

In the context of an ever-changing economy, where people need to learn and develop their skills throughout their lives, Learning and Work Institute have repeatedly argued that the collapse in part-time and mature learners is disastrous. The recommendations made to create more flexible models of study, grow degree apprenticeships and re-instate maintenance grants have the potential to help turn around this decline.

While much of the public debate around higher eduction focuses on tuition fees, this report helpfully recognises that value is not just about cost. The Committee’s call for greater transparency on the returns to higher education, notably through earnings and employment outcomes is important in supporting learners to make good choices.

Taken together, the report provides a welcome steer to the forthcoming Augar review that higher education needs to be more inclusive, and deliver a better deal for all of its learners.


Dr Fiona Aldridge, interim director for research and policy

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