TEFS Submission to DfE post-18 education reviewLINK TO THE FULL SUBMISSION
Priorities for a fairer system.
The current Department of Education review appears to address policy relating to England only since education is devolved in the other UK jurisdictions. However the priorities and case presented here applies equally to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are TWO priorities highlighted in this submission. They are proposed as the foundation upon which any policy change is made and how its effectiveness is assessed. They are related to the fairness of the post-18 education provision and the independence of the data that underpins the assessment of fairness and any cost-benefit analysis arising. In making change it is also essential that the policies are planned in the longer-term so that students and their families can plan effectively well into the future.
1. That equality of opportunity for all students in their studies is always ensured and that this principle is the foundation for ALL decisions made regarding access, financing and delivery of courses. This impacts fair access, support whilst a student is studying and equitable value for money related to any financial burden and/or debt incurred. One suggestion is that the resource of study time is placed top of the list of resources that should be equalised for all students. With this principle at the base all other factors can be adjusted accordingly.
2. That the data gathering that underpins policy decisions and associated cost- benefit analysis is designed to effectively assess equality of opportunity for students. This should be reviewed as part of a process of ensuring effectiveness of policies and associated cost-benefit analysis. It should be conducted completely independently of the institutions concerned
Before designing any funding system it must start with consideration of the individual student and work from that point. Three principles in seeking a fair and equal education of high quality might be:
1. Every university provides defined, rigorous and testing degree programmes that offer access to the full expertise of the most experienced staff. This would to some extent reverse the expansion of short-term contract staff that have supported the expansion in student numbers in favour expanding of long-term experienced staff.
2. Every student has the same access to time and resources to carry out their studies regardless of background. In making policy, the particular emphasis should be on ensuring that every student has the same time available for their studies. This would be the basis for assessing value for the money invested by the student, their families and the tax payer.
3. The data that supports the policies should relate to the individual student. That data should be gathered by a body that is free from commercial influences and also entirely independent of the institutions it is observing.
To achieve these goals, it will be necessary to create a means tested funding system. This would be composed of two elements that ensure an equitable balance between contributions from the tax payer and from the students and families.
1) Universities would receive from fees and government a flat rate of funding per student related to the amount of resource they devote to teaching in each area. This may vary according to the cost of the subject and the projected need for students in areas of shortage. Fees and loans would be means tested with the most disadvantaged students not paying fees. In effect these would be partly subsidised by the tax payer.
2) All students would be expected to devote the same amount of time to their degree studies. Each individual student would generate a study plan that demonstrated this was possible and the expectation would be that more rigorous standards were imposed by the institutions in return. A mixture of grants that were means tested and loans would be available to ensure that this was possible in all cases.
This would move closer to the ideals of Robins 1963 who noted that: “Courses of higher education should be available for all those who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.”
LINK TO THE FULL SUBMISSION
HERE AND AT https://www.pdf-archive.com/2018/05/02/tefs-submission-2nd-may-2018/
Mike Larkin, retired from Queen's University Belfast after 37 years teaching Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics.