Government plans to restrict access to higher education

By Klara Woxström

On Thursday 24 February, the UK government’s Department for Education (DfE) published an open consultation for the restructuring of England’s higher education system. This is in response to a review of post-18 education in 2019

Amongst the proposals was a new minimum requirement – a passing grade in GCSE maths and English – to access student loans. The DfE stated that this is to ensure students entering higher education will have “attained the baseline skills required to engage with and benefit from the course”. Exceptions would be granted to “mature students” and students who achieve high results in their A-levels. This is partly to encourage students to take foundation courses and apprenticeships instead of directly pursuing degrees. Currently, 10 per cent of students who go into higher education did not achieve a level 4 in their English and maths GCSEs.

The LSESU Social Mobility Society criticised the proposals: “Education at all stages is super important, but academic talent can shine at any point in your education. Cutting funding to those who are yet to realise their full potential is a huge sacrifice of valuable talent!” 

Furthermore, the LSESU 93% Club commented that this will disproportionately affect state-educated students compared to privately-educated ones. The proposals “would widen the divide that already exists, as privately-educated students who would be able to afford to go to university without a student loan wouldn’t be affected”.

The government also seeks to limit the university places available in England, restricting entry into degrees that do not offer great prospects for graduate jobs in order to “tilt growth towards provision with the best outcomes for students, society, and the economy”.

In addition, the government plans to extend the repayment term of student loans from 30 to 40 years, to decrease the bill for taxpayers. This would mean students graduating and going into higher education in 2023 would be repaying their student loans into their 60s. 

A spokesperson for the 93% Club commented: “Forcefully cutting higher education places in this manner will disproportionately affect state-educated students, who have less access to the resources that lead to success in university applications.’’

‘‘It has been clearly documented that state school students have a lower earning potential, even if they achieved higher grades than privately-educated peers who studied the same course at the same university… [Therefore] the brunt of increasing the cut-off and lowering the income threshold will…be mainly felt by state-educated students.”


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
On Key

Related Posts

scroll to top