IHE Welcomes Post-18 Education and Funding Review

Independent Higher Education welcomes today’s announcement of the Government’s review into post-18 education and funding in England.

As announced in a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May in Derby this afternoon, the review will be carried out by the Department for Education with expert input from an independent advisory panel chaired by Philip Augar, a former equities broker in the City of London. The review will take in all post-18 education, looking both at the choices available and the funding of learning and living costs.

The Prime Minister highlighted the need for a flexible tertiary education system that provided students with a diversity of routes including academic, technical and professional education. She also spoke of “breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, so we can create a system which is truly joined up.”

The review will focus on four main themes: ensuring choice and competition across a joined-up post-18 education and training sector; designing a system that is accessible to all, in terms of opportunity and affordability; providing value for money for both graduates and taxpayers; and delivering the skills that the UK economy needs.

Independent Higher Education welcomes the Prime Minister’s recognition that a more streamlined and flexible post-18 education and funding system is needed to increase diversity, innovation and access to higher learning in the UK. Flexibility and student choice must therefore be front and centre of the review announced today. More flexible funding will support more flexible learning, allowing students to choose a course, mode of study and pace to suit them.

IHE’s Strategy 2018-20 sets out our ambition for a more streamlined system of funding and regulation across all levels and types of tertiary education, which would allow funding to follow students to the provider and course which fits them best. The education and training needs of the UK do not start and end with a three-year academic degree, but funding and regulatory barriers have limited the availability and accessibility of other high-quality options. Expanding the range of education and training routes for students must now be our number one priority and we particularly welcome the Government’s ambition to strengthen technical and professional education as part of the review.

The panel’s report will be submitted to the Education Secretary, Chancellor and Prime Minister in the autumn, with the review concluding with policy decisions early in 2019.

IHE Chief Executive, Alex Proudfoot said:

“The Prime Minister rightly expanded the conversation beyond university fees today. The problem that must be tackled most urgently by this review lies not in the essential funding model for a three-year degree, but in the failure to offer any real alternative. Flexibility and choice must be the government’s watchwords. Students should be able to choose from excellent higher academic and technical courses, accelerated programmes, part-time, blended and flexible learning, all at the pace which is right for them. To make this a reality, funding cannot be tied to academic years, and it shouldn’t depend on climbing the academic ladder – a modern, mobile workforce will need to acquire new skills and knowledge wherever they are and whatever ‘level’ they’ve reached.

“Achieving this will require a streamlining of regulatory processes for funding across all of tertiary education. Technical and professional education must at last take centre stage, and lose the albatross label of Further Education with its lumbering, innovation-killing bureaucracy. The outdated model of contracts and subcontracts creates too-big-to-fail providers and it blunts the teeth of regulators. There should be a single, clear process for approving tertiary education providers – like the OfS register – with students able to take their money, or their employer’s, to whichever provider can best support the learning they need and connect them with their industry of choice.”


  1. About Independent Higher Education 
    Independent Higher Education is the UK membership organisation and national representative body for independent providers of higher education, professional training and pathways.
  2. Independent higher education providers teach on average a higher percentage of students from non-traditional backgrounds than publicly funded universities. Data from the third HESA alternative provider data release –Statistical First Release: Higher Education Statistics: Alternative Providers – shows that independent providers attract high numbers of mature students (40% of all students) and BME students (54% of all students). In comparison, 9% of full-time students at publicly funded HE providers were mature and 25% identified as BME.
  3. For further information on the independent higher education sector, please see our report from The Independent Higher Education Survey 2017 which can be found here – http://independenthe.com/2017/07/13/the-independent-higher-education-survey-2017-full-report/
  4. For further information or interviews, please contact Joy Elliott-Bowman, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Independent Higher Education, on 020 7608 8453 or at joy@independenthe.com
  • On 19th February 2018