The Guardian,
Margaret Hodge not confident public funds safe in private colleges scheme

“… the total amount of public money paid out to the colleges and students increased from about £50m to £675m a year. The Student Loans Company, a government quango, paid out £1.27bn in financial support for students at alternative providers during the four-year period.”

£675m to private colleges and their students — more than one-third of HEFCE’s teaching budget.

The leak of public education money to private, for-profit providers is not a drip. It is a flood.

Read the full article on The Guardian website.

See also:HEFCE Budget, HEFCE Budget
See also:HEFCE Budget, HEFCE Budget
Huffington Post,
Labour’s Tuition Fee Pledge Shows Just How Bleak Politics Has Become

Bradley Allsop:

“The more honest Labourites will admit that £6,000 is still too much, but we embrace Labour because at least they’re ‘taking a step in the right direction’. Codswallop. If this were the latest in a long line of announcements that indicate a small but significant u-turn back towards its socialist roots, then the point might be valid. Back in the real world, however, what we see is a half-baked measure that comes after Ukip-like immigration rhetoric, Tory-like welfare rhetoric, and polling neck and neck with the Greens amongst 18-24 year olds. This move by Labour is not part of some broader moral renewal- it’s a half-arsed attempt at fooling the young back into the fold.”

If nothing else, Labour’s announcements have brought higher education funding closer to the forefront of election debate. It is an important debate.

The decision between the deficit now (from lowering fees) or a deferred deficit from some lower level of loan write-downs needs to taken in the context of the psychological and financial costs for graduates that do less well and the statement that free or lower cost higher education makes about the importance of education in an advanced economy.

Labour’s proposal to reduce pension tax benefits for the wealthy is not unreasonable. A graduate levy or tax would also not be unreasonable. Both approaches take a better stab at identifying graduates who have made the most private gains from higher education, the former less accurately than the latter.  

Read the full article on Huffington Post website.

See also:Observer (editorial), Liam Byrne (Times Higher Education), Guardian (on Liberal Democrat's response)
Related tweets:@jameschanuk
See also:Observer (editorial), Liam Byrne (Times Higher Education), Guardian (on Liberal Democrat's response)
Related tweets:@jameschanuk
The Guardian,
Students at private college told to repay grants

The government changes its mind about the eligibility of a private college, demands the college returns the fees it paid on behalf of students and demands the students repay the maintenance loans. If the college misrepresented itself, the first half is fair enough. The second half should never happen.

“The Student Loans Company (SLC) has demanded that thousands of pounds of maintenance grants awarded two years ago to students at the ICE Academy, a private independent college with campuses across the UK, be recovered despite officials recognising they were victims of a bureaucratic fiasco. SLC has already sent 80 cases to debt collectors.”

Shocking.

Read the full article on The Guardian website.

UK Parliament,
Financial support for students at alternative higher education providers

The Public Accounts Committee report on funding of alternative (private) higher education providers has been released. The report and associated press release is scathing on the lack of oversight: 

“[T]he Department has been unable to quantify how much money has been lost when it has funded students who have failed to attend, or failed to complete courses, or were not proficient in the English language, or were not entered for qualifications, or where courses themselves were poorly taught.”

The scale is important, loans and grants to students studying at these new private providers amount to around £645m. By comparison, HEFCE’s budget for research and teaching is less than £4 billion.

Read the full article on UK Parliament website.