The findings of an independent review into post-18 education have been welcomed by Prime Minister Theresa May who said that she strongly agrees with a number of the issues identified.

The Prime Minister said that she had ordered the review in order to ensure that young people have more choice, can access the highest quality courses and receive the best possible value for money.

The expert panel which carried out the review, led by Dr Philip Augar, has published 53 recommendations for Government in its report which can be found here.

“Post-18 (or tertiary) education in England is a story of both care and neglect, depending on whether students are amongst the 50% of young people who participate in higher education (HE) or the rest,” Dr Augar said. “The panel believes that this disparity simply has to be addressed.”

The report argues that the removal of maintenance grants is deterring some less well-off young people and recognises strong concerns about the highest levels of debt being incurred by disadvantaged students following grants being abolished.

Noting that, in Germany, 20% of 25 year-olds hold a higher technical qualification, while the figure in the UK is just 4%, the Prime Minister said: “Reinvigorating FE is vital if we are to help all our young people develop the skills they need to get on – and if we are to truly make a success of our modern industrial strategy.”

She also endorsed the call for reform to tuition fees to ensure value for money for students and the taxpayer.

The report argues that maximum fees for students should be reduced to £7500 a year with more of the taxpayer funding coming through grants directed to disadvantaged students and to high value and high cost subjects.

The Government will now consider the panel’s proposals, promising to “engage further with stakeholders and students”, before finalising its approach at the forthcoming Spending Review.

However, several commentators have already noted that her soon-to-be appointed successor may well not be as enthusiastic about the proposals as Mrs May.

Last reviewed 14 June 2019