General Election 2017

PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT GOVERNMENT

“This election comes at a time of major change for the higher education sector after the passage of the most significant piece of legislation for 25 years. The British and global economies are evolving, and higher education is changing to keep pace. Independent providers will play an essential part in this sector’s future, driving a more flexible, student-centred approach, strengthening links between education and industry, and extending ladders to underrepresented groups. We look forward to working with the next Government to help all students find their own path and unlock their full potential.”

– Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive, Independent Higher Education

STREAMLINED REGULATION

BREXIT

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

"The next Government should prioritise the streamlining of regulatory gateways and processes across the tertiary education sector"

Streamlined regulation,
Election 2017

The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 answered our calls for an effective new regulatory approach towards an increasingly diverse and dynamic sector. The next Government should complete the establishment of the Office for Students as a modern, intelligent regulator working to safeguard the student interest in a high quality, diverse sector which can meet their individual needs and prepare them for life in the 21st century.

The demand for higher education will continue to grow as ever greater numbers of British men and women require higher level skills and knowledge to thrive in the global economy, but one size will not fit all. Higher technical courses have an essential part to play in bridging the UK’s skills gaps and driving innovation in growth areas such as engineering, technology and the creative industries. The next Government should prioritise the streamlining of regulatory gateways and processes across the tertiary education sector, recognising the value of industry-focused pathways which currently fall between multiple systems.

Brexit graphic

"The next Government should adopt a phased approach to the implementation of any new visa processes to protect students already committed to education in the UK"

Brexit,
Election 2017

Our higher education sector depends greatly on the hard work of European staff and students, who should have their existing rights confirmed as soon as possible, with newcomers warmly welcomed and subject to as few barriers to participation as possible. The next Government should adopt a phased approach to the implementation of any new visa processes to protect students already committed to education in the UK and safeguard our reputation.

The UK’s departure from the EU will mark a new chapter for our country filled with significant opportunities alongside the challenges. Making the most of these demands a long-term vision with a focus on stability in most areas but a bold new approach where it is needed. The UK would benefit greatly from its staff and students having continued access to programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ but should also lead the way in educational innovations and forging strong links with countries and institutions around the world.

FUNDING FAIRNESS

GLOBAL BRITAIN

Calculator & pen

"The next Government should commit to providing every student with the equivalent level of financial support, whichever route they choose through higher learning"

Funding fairness,
Election 2017

The switch to financing higher education primarily through student loans has produced a stable funding environment in which universities and colleges can make long term decisions to invest in high quality provision. The evidence so far suggests that the income contingent nature of the loans allows for a progressive policy overall which does not discourage young people from completing their education, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Any future decision to increase public funding of higher education should avoid reimposing caps and be sure to preserve the greatest strength of the system today: that funding directly follows the student and supports their choice of which course is best for them.

Further reform is, however, needed in expanding the choices available to include excellent higher technical courses, accelerated programmes, part-time, blended, and flexible learning which responds to each student’s educational journey and personal circumstances. The next Government should commit to providing every student with the equivalent level of financial support, whichever route they choose through higher learning. In doing so, it must ensure that the value of this student finance is not eroded by VAT, diverting money away from the learning experience.

Conrad Bird at conference 2016

"The international reputation and enduring appeal of British education should be celebrated, protected and promoted by the next Government"

Global Britain,
Election 2017

The UK should be more open than ever to talent, ideas and investment from around the world in order to secure a prosperous future for Global Britain. The international reputation and enduring appeal of British education should be celebrated, protected and promoted by the next Government as not only a precious source of export income but an unrivalled generator of soft power. The value of this trade cannot fully be measured in pounds but also in the light of new friendships formed, old partnerships renewed, and British values and culture shared with the world.

Brexit will inevitably require the next Government to conduct a comprehensive review of our immigration rules and visa system. This provides an ideal opportunity to consider whether any improvements can be made to the visa routes for international students to ensure they are efficient, transparent and globally competitive. The new regulatory framework in higher education offers a foundation for clearing out inconsistencies in the current rules, and clarifying the rights and responsibilities of students and providers. As well as students, the mobility of academic staff is essential to the global exchange of ideas which underpins the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, and should be given a high priority.