» Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PAC Report on higher education

Asked if the Prime Minister minded if universities failed, the PMS said that there had been a lot of speculation on the conclusions of the report. We had set out some proposals and they would not actually be implemented until next year. The Office for Fair Access (Offa) was still waiting to hear the details from individual universities on what they were intending to charge.

The PMS said that the system that we had before was not a sustainable one and there was a problem with the funding of universities. We therefore took the difficult decision of increasing tuition fees, so that students would take on a greater share of the financial burden, rather than the taxpayer.

Asked if the Prime Minister saw the danger in universities not wanting to appear second-rate, the PMS said that the reality was that we did not know the detail of what universities would charge. Some universities had said that they wanted to charge up to 9000, but we should wait until that information had been passed to Offa.

Put that there were suggestions in the report that the new model was not sustainable either, the PMS said that this was speculative; they had not presented any evidence of a funding gap.

Asked how much the new system would cost compared to the old system, the PMS replied that the main issue here was who paid, taxpayers or the students themselves.

Asked if the two systems would end up costing the same, the PMS replied that we had a system where that the general taxpayer was paying for the majority of university education. We were now asking students to pay more reflecting the fact that they tended to benefit financially from a university education.

Asked if the Government felt it was under any obligation to save universities from going under, the PMS said that the important thing was that we had a well-funded, sustainable university sector and that we were now in a better place as a result of the reforms because we had a sustainable model.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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