Post-18 Review of Education and Funding - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Young of Old Scone Baroness Young of Old Scone Labour 7:00 pm, 4th June 2019

My Lords, I declare an interest as chancellor of one university and chairman-elect of another, and commend the report for one thing—I am quite critical of many of the issues raised in it—which is the bringing together of further and higher education into one system and thinking about them together. I think that is absolutely important, but the risk is that this is a zero-sum game: if there is no further funding to bring forward that increase in priority for further education, will that reduce the funding for higher education, with catastrophic impacts not only on teaching but especially on research, as a result of the quite substantial cross-subsidy that exists between different funding and spending streams within each university? How does the Minister see that fitting with the Government’s commitment to increase research funding to 2.4% of GDP, if universities are to be constrained in their very important role of taking that research increase forward?

One other issue has not yet been touched upon. Dr Philip Augar’s report talks about apprenticeships for the future, and the Statement stressed the Government’s consciousness of the need for reskilling and upskilling. That is particularly true of people who are mid-career. As skills and jobs change dramatically at the moment, mid-career people need upskilling just as much as others, yet the report recommends that apprenticeships at postgraduate level should not be allowed for someone who has already had a publicly funded degree qualification. I hope that the Government will reject that proposal.