Treasury consultation on student loans

09 January 2018

Sustainable funding for higher education needs to work in three ways: for students, for universities and for the taxpayer. The current debate on higher education funding is a timely reminder of the need to keep the balance between these three actors. Ultimately, decisions about the correct balance between the public and private contribution to the cost of funding the higher education system are political ones.


In reviewing the approach to higher education funding, Government should ensure the following principles remain at the core of the system:

  • students from all backgrounds have access to a wide range of courses recognising skilled graduates provide the future professional workforce to meet the needs of industry and society; to achieve this student numbers should remain uncapped
  • overall funding for teaching (whether through fees or grants) is sufficient to support high quality, research-intensive learning environments across the full range of disciplines, recognising the need for the UK to foster a broad and adaptable skills and knowledge base to remain competitive
  • funding is predictable and enables universities to plan and make long-term strategic capital and human resource investments
  • the contributions expected of students and of taxpayers are affordable and broadly reflective of the public and private benefits associated with higher education.

In addition, it would be helpful to consider how the benefits of the system could be better communicated to students and taxpayers. This could help to build greater understanding of the balance between the contributions made by students and taxpayers, and the progressive nature of the income-contingent loan system. Improvements to information and advice for students could also encourage more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider applying to university.

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