In response to the Augar Review released today, Professor John Latham, Chair of University Alliance and Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University said:
“This is a quietly damning critique of the existing system – and a decade of bad policy decisions. Augar is right to argue the current model is unfair, inefficient and incoherent. There are good ideas here, some areas of concern but overall much to support – and he’s set out a solid roadmap for us to address years of policy failure on expanding flexible courses, tech-ed and expanding adult education.
“The test is whether ministers can spare the political energy, legislation or funding to such a big programme in the forthcoming Spending Review – because you don’t get a top class education and training on the cheap.
“Ministers need to face the reality on the ground. On the one hand, FE has been starved of investment for decades – and day-in, day-out our members see the impact on their college partners. You can’t wave away the gross-underfunding overnight. On the other hand, universities’ finances are getting tight even now, with margins spread very thin across institutions. We’ve only just started reversing decades of underinvestment; there have been serious real-terms cuts in teaching income since 2012; and OfS reporting increased cost pressures.
“We will be arguing hard for balanced, sustained funding across the post-18 system, not playing FE off against HE. The fact is the funding gap will not be closed by tinkering with graduate repayment rates, cutting hundreds of millions from our budgets or hitting smaller, skills-focused universities hardest. These proposed changes need very careful modelling and piloting on the frontline – we can’t afford for more changes which work on paper but fail in reality”.