Friday, 12 October 2012

The Higher Education White Paper: The Good, the Bad, the Unspeakable – and the Next White Paper

an article by Nicholas Barr (London School of Economics and Political Science) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 46 Issue 5 (October 2012)


This article argues that reforms of higher education finance for undergraduates in England introduced by the Blair government in 2006 provided a progressive strategy for achieving the central objectives of higher education of quality (better), access (wider) and size (larger).

Reforms in 2012 are a not a strategy but a collection of ad hoc arrangements. They include the good (a higher fees cap, a higher interest rate on student loans, better information and improved support for part-time study), the bad (abolishing most taxpayer support for teaching in the arts and humanities and the social sciences, and raising excessively the threshold at which loan repayments start) and the unspeakable (abolishing Education Maintenance Allowances and AimHigher).

The reforms are fiscally costly and hence perpetuate the central problem of capped student numbers, and will not stand the test of time.

The concluding section outlines the next White Paper.

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