Our universities generate vital research and serve critical social and economic functions across the country. However, with high tuition fees, escalating student debt and quality varying hugely across courses, there is a danger that young people feel dissatisfied with their degrees. For HE to maintain its reputation as a powerhouse for society and the economy, we want to see it become more diverse, employment-focused and more focused on offering rigorous value for money.
Ou young people are starting university with the expectation that a degree provides a passport to a good job, to career progression and to a high salary. Certainly, higher education provides many benefits to young people and society, but with tuition fees at their current levels, and the graduate premium waning and varying hugely between courses, this has left many young people feeling that they were ‘mis-sold’ their degrees.
To maintain its reputation and continue to be a powerhouse for society and the economy, we want to see higher education rebalanced to become more:
- Diverse - students need access to a wide range of course settings, including higher education in further education colleges, new providers and accelerated courses. They can also benefit from more diverse methods of delivery for example with more flexible and online learning.
- Expansion of higher level courses - We need to see expansion of higher and degree apprenticeships, high-quality provision at Level 4 and 5, and sandwich courses that allow students to combine higher education and work.
- Employment-focussed - employers need to be invited to provide real world context, exchange staff, offer placements and collaborate on projects to give students the best chance of moving on into skilled employment.
- Focus on careers – with careers services closely integrating employers input.
- Value for money - young people need to receive high quality and realistic advice while at school about the range of options and their likely returns to prevent them later feeling mis-sold. Tuition fees should also be reduced across the board with bursaries and grants better targeted to students from lower income families
Find out more in Our Plan for Higher Education.