Russell Group response to Government’s interim response to review of post-18 education and funding

21 January 2021

Responding to the Government’s interim response to the review of post-18 education and funding published today (21 January 2021), Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

"Education is key to our country’s prosperity and integral to our recovery from Covid-19. The Government must be ambitious for both further and higher education, putting quality first so whichever path they choose students will gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

"The proposed increases in the university teaching grant for skilled, specialist subjects in England are welcome and will help support high-cost medical, dental and STEM degrees that have been significantly underfunded over many years. We hope this move to increase investment will now be echoed across the devolved nations. However, it is disappointing the uplift comes at the cost of London weighting. This loss will have a significant negative impact on world-class higher education in the city, where costs are not only higher but where many areas are just as disadvantaged as those the Government wants to help elsewhere with its levelling-up agenda.

"On TEF, the Government has listened to the sector by halting plans for an unwieldy subject-level exercise. We are also pleased to see a commitment to review TEF so it continues to incentivise enhancement to benefit students while minimising the burden of bureaucracy on universities, freeing them up to do what they do best.

"Looking ahead, we urge the Government to ensure it is funding higher education in a long term and sustainable way, closing the ever-widening gap in funding versus cost for undergraduate courses, and investing in the broad spectrum of high-level skills that are critical to economic prosperity and levelling up opportunity across the country."

Notes

  • OfS analysis has identified a growing disparity between the cost of courses and the income universities receive via the Teaching Grant and Student Fees.
  • A report by KPMG found that the cost of undergraduate teaching in London is 14.1% higher than outside of London.
  • Russell Group universities teach a quarter of all undergraduate students, a third of all postgraduate students, more than a third of engineers, four out of five doctors and dentists, 45% of linguists and 50% of physical scientists and mathematicians.
  • Russell Group universities generate almost £87bn a year for the economy and support more than a quarter of a million jobs across the UK.

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