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Universities UK to review student funding system

A panel of vice-chancellors and policy experts is to review the student fees and loans system in England, Universities UK has announced.

The Student Funding Panel will examine the system’s ability to deliver value for money for students, be financially sustainable for government and provide long term stable funding to support high quality teaching and learning.

The announcement comes as a new Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysis, funded by UUK, estimates that for each £1 loaned out by the government to cover the cost of tuition and maintenance, the long-run cost - the government “subsidy” – is 43.3p.

An IFS report published earlier this month found that almost three-quarters of graduates will not earn enough to pay back their loans in full, being left with an average debt of around £30,000 to be written off.

The panel of vice-chancellors and policy experts from outside the sector will look in particular at how the cost to the public purse of tuition fee and maintenance loans can be reduced.

The panel does not include a National Union of Students representative, but UUK said it would invite a range of organisations and individuals to contribute to the review, including the NUS.

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, UUK President and chair of the new panel, said it recommendations would be made up to, and immediately following, the General Election in May 2015.

“The student funding system must be accessible for all students who have the desire and ability to benefit from university, regardless of their financial background,” he said.

“In developing recommendations, the panel will seek to ensure that the system offers value for money for students and is financially sustainable for government. It must also provide a stable funding environment for universities that allows them to deliver high quality teaching, and the skilled graduates that the economy and society needs.

“We will seek a broad political consensus for a sustainable system of funding.”

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