LONDON: Theresa May will announce a sweeping review of post-18 education as she admits to serious concerns about a system that leaves the poorest students in England with the highest debt.
The Prime Minister will acknowledge the current system of university tuition fees of up to £9,250 a year had not resulted in the “competitive” market that had been expected and instead “we now have one of the most expensive systems” in the world.
The Government-led review, supported by an independent chair and panel, will look at all aspects of student funding, including the maintenance support available to help with the cost of living.
In a speech she will say the goal of making university accessible to teenagers from all backgrounds “is not made easier by a funding system which leaves students from the lowest-income households bearing the highest levels of debt, with many graduates left questioning the return they get for their investment”.
The review comes amid widespread concern about the debt burden on students and the high interest rates, currently 6.1%, on loans.
Mrs May will acknowledge the concerns of students, parents and grandparents about the lev
“The competitive market between universities which the system of variable tuition fees envisaged has simply not emerged,” she will say.
“All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses.
“Three year courses remain the norm. And the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course.
“We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world.”
Former education secretary Justine Greening has urged the Government to reintroduce maintenance grants for poorer students.
Mrs May said the review will “examine how we can give people from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance to succeed” which includes “how disadvantaged students and learners receive maintenance support, both from Government and universities and colleges”.