Commenting on the publication of the White Paper and interim response, University Alliance Chair and Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton Professor Debra Humphris said:
“As the nation looks to build back better from the pandemic, the country will need more people with higher level skills. It is therefore welcome to see the commitment laid out within the Skills For Jobs White Paper and interim conclusion of the post-18 review, to transform post-16 education and training to enable learners to gain skills at whatever stage of life.
“In meeting the demand for higher technical skills, and more broadly as an essential part of the national education infrastructure, it is right that further education receives additional investment and post-16 education is reformed. However, it is also vital that the role of universities in delivering technical skills is not forgotten; the divide between academic and technical education can be overstated.
Alliance universities are both technical and academic in their education and research, with a strong record of working with further education colleges and industry partners to offer students both broad-based knowledge and specific occupational skills; meeting the needs of industry, public services and the professions.
“We welcome the opportunity through these reforms to build a more integrated tertiary education system that further incentivises HE and FE to work in partnership to deliver flexibility, choice and clear career pathways for all learners.
“We recognise this is an interim response to the Post-18 review, and whilst some decisions have been rightly delayed, we maintain serious reservations about some of those proposals. We look forward to engaging in the full response to the review in line with the Comprehensive Spending Review and ensuring the higher education sector is equipped to continue delivering the workforce, research and innovation to support an economic, social and cultural recovery from this crisis. For now, all eyes should be on mitigating the immediate impact of the pandemic to enable universities to support current and future learners”.