Commenting on the impact of today’s spending review on education, skills and social mobility, Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation said:
“While the cuts may not be as much as some feared, the Chancellor’s real terms cuts to further education and sixth form studies still pose a threat to the Prime Minister’s laudable social mobility goals. Those cuts could harm university access by cutting opportunities for young people to study key A-level subjects and reduce second chance college opportunities.
“We welcome the real terms protection for overall school budgets, though its terms mean many schools will still face significant cuts, and support the continuation of the pupil premium. However, in the light of our recent research, we urge caution in the introduction of the national funding formula so that those facing the double disadvantage of being poor in disadvantaged areas don’t lose out.
“We are also concerned about plans to cut the student opportunity fund, which supports disadvantaged young people getting to university. But we welcome his positive response to our call for greater collaboration between universities to ensure that the £730 million of university access and outreach support is invested effectively, better co-ordinated and is well understood by young people and their teachers. A strong independent access regulator is vital to ensuring this happens.
“We welcome the new part-time maintenance loans, and extra help for post-graduates. But we deplore his plans to replace student grants with loans, leaving poorer students with greater debts than richer students. We also deplore his decision to confirm a freeze in the repayment threshold for graduates, including retrospectively for existing students, something that damages trust in the loans system.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s renewed commitment to apprenticeships and to the levy on employers. But if they are to be a true engine of opportunity, it is vital that every apprentice is expected to work towards a good qualification. There’s no point in having three million extra apprenticeships if two million of them leave young people without the skills to succeed. Quality as well as quantity must be built into their delivery.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Background to Success, published in November 2015, investigates the patterns of academic attainment for different subgroups of a longitudinal sample of more than 3,000 students. It illustrates the powerful role that different background factors, such as gender, ethnicity and disadvantage, have in shaping educational outcomes, success and educational futures.
2. Unfair Deal, published in September 2015, examines the impact on students of the changes to student loan terms announced in the 2015 Summer Budget. It finds that while all students will end up repaying more, disadvantaged students will be particularly adversely affected.
3. Levels of Success, published in October 2015, looks at the earning potential of apprenticeships versus degrees, finding that the very best apprenticeships (at level 5) result in greater lifetime earnings than degrees from non-Russell Group universities.