Government Policy on Higher Education Funding

The last twelve years have seen much debate about the structure, purpose and funding model of higher education. The impact of firstly fees and then variable fees has heralded a financial relationship between the student and their institution. A concentration of research income in very few universities has meant further financial inequalities developing across the sector. A promised review of fees in late 2009 could raise the fee cap even higher, having a massive impact on participation in HE. The current financial climate or the outcome of a general election could alter the 50% target of young people entering universities. We have already seen threats to government promises on lifelong learning with the abolition of support for equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQ) in 2008. Devolved policies around the UK add a further layer of complexity to these changes.

What are the implications?

  • Depending on your type of institution, there may be either a sharp decline or increase in income which could impact on teaching quality and deliverable services.
  • Devolved policies across the UK could impact on variable quality and experiences.
  • Further diversification of your student body could occur in relation to mature and part time learners. This depends on the attitude to the ELQ question going forward.
  • If there is a need to provide consumer type advice to students, how would this affect the role of students’ unions as campaigning organisations?

Moving forward

  • Have you undertaken scenario planning to look at possibilities for changing income over the next few years?
  • Have you worked with your institution to determine their attitude towards variable fees and the perceived impact on the student experience?
  • Have you mapped the type of advice your union is providing in terms of academic quality? Is there a need to undertake work to change the nature of this advice to more of a focus on consumer rights?
Last updated at 16:30 Mon 19/Oct/09.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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