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UCU response to Philip Augar review of education funding

30 May 2019

Responding to the funding review from Philip Augar, UCU said that the review had missed an opportunity to explore radical alternatives to the status quo and risked delivering an even worse version of the politically toxic system it was supposed to improve.

UCU head of policy and campaigns, Matt Waddup, said: 'The prime minister called the Augar review because the current funding system was so politically toxic. Unfortunately, this review looks like a wasted opportunity to develop radical changes that would make a real difference for students and institutions.

'From what we have seen, the recommended tuition fee changes look like the worst of all worlds. Institutions would have their hands tied on funding while students would still graduate with tens of thousands of pounds of debt that many will never fully pay off. It is crucially important that changes don't leave institutions with less resource as that would be hugely damaging for students and staff.

'Education is worth investing in and it is a real shame that this review passed up the opportunity to develop a system that ensures big business finally pay its fair share. A Business Education Tax, which reverses cuts to corporation tax, could allow fees to be scrapped while ensuring that big companies finally contribute properly towards the supply of graduates upon which they rely.

'In further education, the review fails to deal properly with the glaring problem facing the sector - that is the chronic underinvestment it has suffered in recent years. Further education loans have had very low take-up and extending them further into lifelong learning is not the boost the sector needs.

'The review's proposals around rationalising the number of colleges are also concerning. The area reviews have at best had mixed success and the current fate of Stourbridge College is a stark reminder that mergers aren't always in the interests of students.'

The union's submission to the Augar Review can be found here.

Last updated: 3 June 2019