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The Liberal Democrat party has promised to review higher education finance if it is in power after the general election.
The proposal is contained in a pre-manifesto policy paper, which includes a first look at the party’s plans for education ahead of going to the polls next year.
In the pre-manifesto, the party said it would establish a review of HE finance within the next Parliament to assess the current system’s impact on access, participation and quality of courses.
The Liberal Democrats says they aim to boost part-time study numbers by making it easier for students to gain course credit and transfer between departments and institutions.
The paper says the party would expect all universities to increase efforts to open their doors to students from disadvantaged backgrounds by running summer schools and mentoring programmes.
In addition, the Liberal Democrats plan to expand the number of Foundation Degrees and “degree equivalent” higher apprenticeships on offer.
Academic union leaders welcomed the proposals, but suggested the Liberal Democrats were side-stepping how to deal with the “toxic issue” of tuition fees.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: “I welcome today’s proposals from the Liberal Democrats in relation to increasing apprenticeships and improving their quality. I am also encouraged by their recognition of the importance of part-time students and plans to improve careers advice.
“However, their proposed review of higher education sounds worryingly like an effort to dodge an issue they have found particularly toxic in recent years. All parties need to set out exactly what their plans are for university fees.”
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