Increasing choice, ensuring value for money and driving up quality are at the heart of a major review of post-18 education, launched by the Prime Minister.
The UK already has a globally recognised higher education system, with record rates of young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to university. Work is also underway to transform technical education post-16 by introducing new T levels - providing high quality technical qualifications to rival traditional academic options - and overhauling apprenticeships to help provide the skills our economy needs for the future.
Although significant progress has been made, it is clear that the current post-18 system is not working as well as it could be - for young people or for the country. The review is seeking to ensure that post-18 education is giving everyone a genuine choice between high quality technical, vocational and academic routes, students and taxpayers are getting value for money and employers can access the skilled workforce they need.
Speaking at Derby College, a further education college which offers apprenticeships and higher level learning, on 19th February, the Prime Minister warned against “outdated attitudes” that favour academic over technical qualifications and pledged to use the review to look at “the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, to create a system which is truly joined up.”
The wide-ranging review will be informed by independent advice from an expert panel from across post 18 education, business and academia chaired by Philip Augar, a leading author and former non-executive director of the Department for Education.
We need to rethink our approach to post-18 education and encourage more students into rewarding vocational or technical training. For too long there hasn’t been parity in the way we advertise the different career routes available to young people, so I very much welcome this review.
Equipping young people and students with the skills they need to have a fulfilling career is a matter close to my heart. Apprenticeships and vocational training give young people the opportunity to learn a valuable skills, while earning at the same time.I would like to invite people interested in this career route to attend my Apprenticeships and Jobs Fair on 8th March, 10.00 and 15.00 at Ferneham Hall. It is completely free to attend, for more information please visit www.farehamapprenticeships.co.uk.
This year, my annual Apprenticeship Fair falls on National Apprenticeship Week and allows employers and apprentices to come together encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: "our post-18 education system has many strengths. It has a fantastic global reputation, we have record rates of disadvantaged students going to university and we are transforming technical education so employers have access to the skills they need. However, with a system where almost all institutions are charging the same price for courses – when some clearly cost more than others and some have higher returns to the student than others – it is right that we ask questions about choice and value for money. We also need to look at the balance between academic study and technical education to ensure there is genuine choice for young people and that we are giving employers access to a highly skilled workforce."
Chair of the post -18 education review panel Philip Augar said: "I am delighted to chair this crucial review and to work alongside an excellent panel experienced in many different parts of the tertiary education sector. A world class post-18 education system has never been more important to business, society and the economy. We will be focused on ensuring that the system meets those needs by driving up access, quality, choice and value for money for students of all kinds and taxpayers. I look forward to engaging widely with students, business, and providers across the post-18 education landscape. This is a wide open and far reaching review. We begin with no preconceptions and our first priority will be a serious examination of the evidence and hearing from a broad range of stakeholders who like us are committed to ensuring the system works for everyone."
Philp Augar will be supported by five panel members from across the post–18 education landscape.
The government’s reforms to the higher education system, implemented through the new Office for Students, are going further to deliver for young people. This includes holding universities to account for the teaching and outcomes they deliver and shining a light on institutions that need to do more to widen access from disadvantaged groups.
In October last year, the Prime Minister announced that the government would freeze tuition fees for 2018/19 and increase the amount graduates can earn to £25,000 before they start repaying their fees, putting money back into the pockets of graduates.