By Lydia Blundell
The Augur review of post-18 education and funding is expected to advise the government that tuition fees and interest rates on student loans ought to be reduced.
The report is expected to call for annual tuition fees to be cut from £9,250 to £7,500, whilst advising that interest rates on student loans be reduced from 6.3% to as low as 1.5%.
The review, chaired by the banker Philip Augur, aims to relieve financial pressures on young people and present them with vocational alternatives to pursuing a university degree.
Other possible recommendations, according to the Times, include a lengthening of the payback time on loans to beyond 30 years, more loans to cover student living costs, more support for part-time degrees and a possible return to the means-tested grant.
Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, said that “poor value” degrees are “letting down thousands of students and costing the taxpayer millions.”
Hinds released an analysis of tax data, which demonstrates that, on one in ten university courses, three out of four students were earning less than £25,000 five years after graduating.
Some academic areas are suffering considerably worse than others in this respect, with the creative arts student receiving an average salary of £20,000 five years after graduating. Agriculture, psychology, communications and English are also comparatively under salaried.
Hinds suggested that he is willing to tackle university vice-chancellors, as he dismissed the claim that universities would go bust as a result of such an action was “scaremongering”.
Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, reacted with scepticism. He commented that cuts to tuition fees “could lead to bigger class sizes, poorer facilities, labs and libraries,
“Students are right to expect value for money and universities are striving to deliver this and address any concerns. However, salary outcomes shouldn’t be the only measure of value.”
In February 2018, Theresa May commented that universities were better funded now “than they have been for a generation.” With May set to leave Downing Street on the 7th of June, this report is likely to be the last significant one she will face as Prime Minister.
Photograph by Maddie Flishler