The Sutton Trust welcomes the ‘Review of Post-18 Education and Funding’ announced by the government in February this year. The review presents an opportunity to assess the current climate for post-18 education in the UK, and address areas where improvement is needed.
The existing post-18 system creates a number of barriers for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who wish to continue learning beyond school. Our research has shown a growing number of young people are less likely to aspire to higher education. This is unsurprising, as the barriers for those considering university begin when they are at school, with insufficient careers advice and a complicated admissions process based on predicted grades. These obstacles continue beyond graduation, with students from low-income families now taking on unprecedented levels of debt compared to their better-off peers.
For part-time learners the significant increase in tuition fees has not been offset by loans, therefore offering a financially difficult option for those who cannot afford to study full-time, and for those who do not wish to go to university, we are concerned that the current apprenticeship system does not sufficiently support disadvantaged young people. The majority of new apprenticeships are offered to over-25s and for disadvantaged young people who do start an apprenticeship, our research has shown they are unlikely to progress beyond level 2.
For post-18 education in the UK to offer real opportunities for social mobility, our consultation response sets out a number of recommendations. These include reintroducing maintenance grants and introducing a means-tested fee, implementing significant reforms to the current admissions process, and creating more higher and degree level apprenticeships.
You can read our full submission here.