By Claire West
Richard Lambert, CBI Director-General,commented on Lord Browne's Independent Review of Higher Education Funding & Student Finance in England.
Mr Lambert said:
"The review makes a major contribution to the debate about higher education in England. Its recommendations are radical, and if implemented in full, will help to support a sustainable, high-quality university system open to students from all backgrounds.
"The CBI welcomes the emphasis placed on the importance of informed student choice. Under these proposals, courses that deliver for their students will expand and prosper: those that don’t will disappear. Its support for part-time students, who for too long have had a raw deal when it comes to funding, is also welcome. The recommendations are progressive in nature, in that graduates on the lowest incomes will repay less than those on high salaries, and less than they do today. Higher education will remain free at the point of delivery, with loans to be repaid by graduates when they pass income thresholds.
"The proposals will also protect the autonomy of universities, and will lead to a more simple and less burdensome system of regulation.
"The review recognises the critical role for continued public investment in courses that are of strategic importance to our society and economy, including high-cost areas like science and engineering. And the proposed new funding body will have the capacity to support other disciplines that meet the needs of business, such as languages.
"Higher education is a public good, but one that generates significant private benefits in the shape of higher earnings for graduates. So there is much room for debate about the proper role of public and private funding. Lord Browne’s review has struck a clever balance between the two, and creates a valuable platform for the coming political debate.
"One key question, though, is how it will map into the coming cuts in public spending. There is speculation that these could take out more money from the system than is being proposed by Lord Browne, and that the trajectory of cuts will not give universities the time to rebalance in the way that the review has proposed. That would be seriously short sighted, and could cause lasting damage to higher education in England."