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Taking action in higher education

UCU welcomes parliamentary probe into degree funding 'switch'

6 December 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU today welcomed the announcement by the Innovation, Universities and Skills select committee that it is to conduct an inquiry into the government's decision to phase out support for students taking second qualifications of an equivalent or lower level (ELQs) to their first qualifications.

The union has vehemently fought against the decision and highlighted the fact that any reduction in funding for ELQs would directly contradict the government's own lifelong learning agenda. Universities that offer courses to adults and part-time students would be hit the hardest, according to UCU's analysis of the impact of the cuts.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are delighted that the select committee is to conduct this inquiry. We have said from the start that any cuts would unfairly hit the very students the government wants to try and encourage back into higher education.

'The Leitch report makes it clear that people need to retrain and refresh their skills. History tells us that employers are not prepared to stump up the cash so the government needs to either force them to foot the bill or continue to support those students that they are trying to get back into higher education. Failure to do so would make a mockery of its rhetoric about Britain leading the way in a modern high-skilled world.'

In September, the government announced that, from 2008, £100m of funding for students who are studying for a higher education qualification that is equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they have already been awarded would be withdrawn.

The union's analysis revealed the Open University would be worst hit losing over £31.6 million in teaching funding by 2014-15. Birkbeck College, University of London, would lose more than £7.8 million over the same period. Post-92 institutions feature prominently at the top of list of the biggest losers, although Oxford University comes in fourth and would lose over £4m.

The union's full analysis can be found here.