England has an internationally respected system o higher education. There are now a recordnumber o people enrolled, studying an increasingly varied range o subjects at a diverse set o higher education institutions (‘HEIs’). Graduates go on to higher paid jobs and add to the nation’sstrength in the global knowledge based economy. For a nation o our scale, we possess adisproportionate number o the best perorming HEIs in the world, including three o the top ten.However, our competitive edge is being challenged by advances made elsewhere. Other countriesare increasing investment in their HEIs and educating more people to higher standards.In November 2009, I was asked to lead an independent Panel to review the unding o highereducation and make recommendations to ensure that teaching at our HEIs is sustainably nanced,that the quality o that teaching is world class and that our HEIs remain accessible to anyone who has the talent to succeed. Over the last year, we have consulted widely and intensively.Our recommendations are based on written and oral evidence drawn rom students, teachers,academics, employers and regulators. We have looked at a variety o diferent systems and atevery aspect o implementing them – nancial, practical and educational – to ensure that therecommendations we are making are realistic or the long term. I would like to thank all those who have contributed their knowledge, experience and time to this review. Our ndings arecontained in our ull report and summarised here. Great advances have been made in making it possible or more people rom all backgrounds to
enter an HEI. Currently 45% o people between the ages o 18 and 30 enter an HEI, up rom 39%a decade ago. Improvements have been made to ensure that students rom disadvantaged schoolsor backgrounds are given a air chance to study or a degree. Our recommendations build on thissuccess. Support by way o cash or living (‘maintenance’) will be increased. Those studying or adegree part time will be given proportionate access to unding to those studying ull time.The quality o teaching and o the awarded degrees is the oundation upon which the reputation
and value o our higher education system rests. Our recommendations in this area are based ongiving students the ability to make an inormed choice o where and what to study. Competitiongenerally raises quality. The interests o students will be protected by minimum levels o quality enorced through regulation.England’s HEIs are very varied, in the type o student they attract, the standards o attainment
they require or entry, the courses taught and so on. While most o higher education takes placein an HEI called a university this one word does not capture the reality o their diversity. Ourrecommendations reinorce this diversity. And since one size does not t all, we would expectthe result to be that HEIs will set varied charges or courses. A degree is o benet both to the holder, through higher levels o social contribution and higher
lietime earnings, and to the nation, through higher economic growth rates and the improvedhealth o society. Getting the balance o unding appropriate to reect these benets is essentiali unding is to be sustainable. Our recommendations place more o the burden o unding ongraduates, but they contribute only when they can aford to repay the costs nanced. Studentsdo not pay charges, only graduates do; and then only i they are successul. The system o payments is highly progressive. No one earning under £21,000 will pay anything.
Lord Browne at City of Westminster College.
Independent Review of Higher Education Funding & Student Finance