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The vast majority of students were satisfied with their university course in 2020, despite the Covid-19 lockdown from March, a sector-level analysis of the National Student Survey results has found.
Jonathan Baldwin, managing director of higher education at Jisc, looks at the changing role of post-Covid university leadership and the enduring need for collaboration.
The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.
Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Employers should pay a levy for each graduate they employ to help fund tuition fees, according to a new report.
In order to balance the cost more fairly between students, taxpayers and employers, businesses should make a greater contribution, says the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) paper, Fairer Funding: The case for a graduate levy, by Johnny Rich, the chief executive of Push, a not-for-profit outreach organisation.
Under the proposed system, the amounts would be equivalent to the student loan repayments made under the current funding system in England. Revenue from graduate levies would be paid directly to the university where each graduate studied.
Institutions would be financially sustainable because they would share an investment in the future employability of their students, rather than because they maximise their student intake.
The paper comes in advance of the Augar Review’s report in the New Year on the future of Post-18 Education and Funding. It also comes as the Office for National Statistics prepares to announce possible changes to student loan accounting rules that could create a black hole in the Government’s budget deficit plans.
Rich also argues for a redistribution of funds between higher education institutions based on their ability to attract and support students from poorer backgrounds. This would give institutions an incentive to support social mobility and ensure access money is spent more effectively.
“For too long, higher education funding has been a battleground of competing interests between taxpayers, students, employers and universities,” he said. “Over three decades, students have come off worst. A graduate levy would mean that everyone shares the same interests: students having opportunities to do high-quality courses, becoming well qualified for good jobs, filling the nation’s skills gaps.
“The proposal is designed to minimise student debt, but also to ensure employers don’t pay more than they contribute now, unless they get more. The same goes for taxpayers.”
Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, said the paper tackled the challenge of trying to secure greater support from employers.
“It is a challenge no one has been able to solve adequately since the Dearing report called for higher education to be a shared endeavour between government, students and employers over a generation ago. We hope it will serve as a useful contribution to the debate on an under-studied but crucially important area.”
Companies with an annual paybill of more than £3 million currently have to pay an apprenticeship levy. Employers then use an online digital service to access the fund and pay for training for apprentices.
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