In February 2018, the Prime Minister announced a wide-ranging Review of Post-18 Education and Funding led by Philip Augar. The Review was partly in response to increased debate around the cost and value of higher education following a period of reform which saw tuition fees rise to £9,250 per year, maintenance grants abolished and typical student debt rise to £47,000 from a three year degree.

The published review proposed cuts to tuition fees and a lifelong learning loan.

In response, Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said:

“Our student finance system is in serious need of reform. A graduate from the lowest 40% of earners will graduate with debts of £52,000. Most will be paying them off well into middle age.

“While it is good that the Augar Review recommends reinstating maintenance grants, its proposal to reduce tuition fees from £9,250 to £7,500 just tinkers around the edges of a grossly unfair system. If we are serious about creating an equitable student finance system, fees should be means-tested so that those from low income families incur the lowest debts.

“However it is welcome that the Review proposes to introduce a flexible life-long learning loan. Skilling-up and studying later in life is a crucial second chance for many people. However, our research has shown the numbers of people studying part-time have been decimated in recent years. This is a very serious issue which requires far more resources than it gets.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 200 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions. 

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