The Augar Review and other policy developments

At the time of writing, the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore the next Prime Minister is on. There are a lot of policies being promised from various candidates, including Sajid Javid who declared that he would reintroduce post study work visas. Not all candidates have spoken about this issue, but we remain optimistic that there will be further movement towards encouraging international students to study in the UK.

Of course, the big development for the HE sector has been the release of the Augur Review on funding of post-18 education. The publication had been delayed numerous times but Theresa May seemed determined to have it as her parting legacy. It is certainly a hefty report with an array of recommendations, not all helpful to the HE sector. The reduction in funding was well flagged, and the suggestions that the Government would make up the difference left a sense of nervousness about exactly what this might mean and whether or not the Government would make up the whole difference for all subject areas. There is also concern about funding for Foundation programmes.

Augar’s recommendations on Apprenticeships have the potential to impact those business schools delivering Degree Apprenticeships. The Review suggests that funding for Apprenticeships at Levels 6 and 7 should only be available for individuals who do not already hold a degree. Many business schools will be looking at their current cohorts with concern. Augar also recommends that Ofsted is given responsibility for inspecting Levels 6 and 7, and that Apprenticeships should be aligned with the Industrial Strategy.

The picture is much more positive for the Further Education sector, which I don’t think anyone could disagree with. To echo Lord Willett’s comments, ‘so long as Government doesn’t rob Peter to pay Paul’.

There have been numerous well thought through and expressed critiques about the Review and the dangers it could pose if implemented, but that is the big question: how many, if any, of the recommendations will actually be implemented and what dangers lurk behind part implementation. It will be some time before this becomes clear and until then we will continue to lobby on behalf of our members for a system that is fair and allows our world class business schools to thrive.

We continue our discussions with BEIS around funding for Small Business Charter awarded schools to help BEIS deliver to micro and small businesses the numerous programmes, some of which are seemingly stuck behind the Brexit wall. Watch this space.