This week it's mostly about funding students and the sector

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Student finance

The Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons this week. It allows the Secretary of state for Education to set fee limits at the resolution of an individual credit for a variety of courses, which should mean that fee loans will meet the proportional value of a full year of an undergraduate degree.

The government has not an equality analysis of the arrangements for student loans in 2023/24, which finds that the planned 2.8% increase will mean a significant detriment for all student, with significantly negative impact on disadvantaged groups. There is an analysis on Wonkhe.


Widening participation

The government’s response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care includes a commitment to increasing the level of support and opportunity for care-experienced students in higher education, reducing the gap in participation to “minimal” levels by 2030. It proposes a change in the law to introduce a duty of care for universities towards these students.


Universities UK has published a ten point plan on how to grow degree apprenticeship provision. Robert Halfon, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, is a strong supporter of degree apprenticeships.


Attitudes to Higher Education

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the UPP Foundation have published the findings of their Attitudes to Higher Education Survey 2022. In the survey around two thirds of people in England support the reintroduction of maintenance grants for the poorest students. The survey also found that 22% of respondents agreed that a university degree was a waste of time. Advance HE has a summary.


Freedom of speech

The government’s controversial Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill continues to have a bumpy ride in Parliament – for a summary you can visit Wonkhe.


Academic workforce

18 days of strikes began on 1 February: THE has some perspectives on this. Meanwhile, the Fairness Foundation found that 32% of those responding to a survey about public attitudes to strikes supported strike action amongst university staff, with 37% opposed to it. The House of Commons has a good briefing on university strike action in the UK.


Between 2020/21 and 2021/22 there has been a 21% increase in the number of academic staff employed on zero hours contracts, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This amounts to around 1.9% of all academics.

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