After a year-long wait, the
has finally been published. At 210 pages long, it covers both higher and further education and makes a huge 53 recommendations for change. Augar review
Most of those recommendations focus on making changes to the
and regulated and way universities are funded how students pay for higher education.
However, there were a number of other key findings and recommendations made by Augur for improving further education in the UK.
The review found that there has been a fall in numbers of students studying Level 4 and 5 technical-based qualifications (
, Foundation Degrees and Certificates and Diplomas) from 510,000 in 2009/10 to 190,000 in 2016/17. HNCs, HNDs
This is leading to skills gaps in manual and technical STEM sectors such as science, engineering, IT and digital. Employers are often having to employ graduates, who have academic qualifications but no real technical skills, who are often unprepared for the tasks at hand and leave early.
Here are the recommendations made to improve further education in the UK
, in particular the provision of non-academic, technical qualifications like HNCs and HNDs and who will benefit from it.
Recommendation: Introduce ‘Lifelong Learning Allowance’
This would allow individuals to fund a variety of short courses (technical or academic) across a number of different institutions, or to study for one module at a time “without having to sign up to a full qualification as they do at present”.
The financial amount of this allowance would be the same as the amount of funding provided for a four year fulltime undergraduate degree. This is how the new proposals will change things for students and institutions:
These recommendations benefit all who would like a more flexible approach to learning. The biggest group to benefit are mature students, who might only be able to study part-time due to other commitments.
It also benefits those who might be unsure of what they want to do with their career and want to explore multiple options.
It would give individuals the flexibility to retrain or gain knowledge over a number of subject areas and gain both academic and technical skills that are needed in the workplace, as and when they are needed.
Recommendation: Interim Qualifications
Institutions should offer an interim Level 4 or 5 qualification to all students who are following a Level 6 (bachelors degree) once they have passed a certain part of a degree.
This would benefit students who, for whatever reason, have to leave their course partway through as they’d still have a qualification to show for their hard work up to that point. It would also make it easier for students to transfer between institutions or courses midway through a degree.
Recommendation: Develop National Colleges and Institutes of Technology
The review encourages the development of new National Colleges and Institutes of Technology which are created by, or in collaboration with, employers and offer ‘high-level technical skills training in areas where there are shortages (engineering, digital, IT and creative industries).
Providing students with better quality training is obviously great, but the real winner here are employers and the Government looking to boost the UK’s productivity.
Recommendation: Reinstating funding for Level 2 and Level 3 Qualifications
Before 2012, any adult student studying their first full Level 2 (GCSE) qualification received full funding for the course. However, in 2016/17, government support for workplace training for those 24 and older was entirely removed.
And before 2013, any adult student studying their first full Level 3 qualification (
etc.) received full funding for the course. However, in 2013/14 the law changed and since then anyone aged 24 or over and employed had to take out an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for it. A-Level, BTEC
The recommendation is to reinstate the funding for the first ‘full’ Level 2 qualification, for those who are 24 and over and who are employed. And for Level 3 qualifications, the recommendation is that the age cap is removed and the first ‘full’ Level 3 is available free to all learners whether they are in work or not.
Mature students – as it would remove financial barriers and open up access to further education later in life for those who want or need to train/retrain.
Recommendation: Giving students good Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)
The review found that schools are still failing to tell pupils about all of the higher and further education options available to them after they turn 18. They recommend the government do more to hold schools accountable for the advice they provide and to offer more training to in-school careers advisors.
Everyone benefits from this. Students are better informed, make better choices and are more likely to follow career paths they are satisfied with. This should lead to a decrease in dropouts and hopefully a more well-rounded workforce with less skills gaps in key areas.
Recommendation: Increasing funding for Further Education Colleges
The review highlights the importance of Further Education Colleges in providing technical courses at Levels 3 (BTEC and other diplomas), 4 (HNC), and 5 (HND) that are vital to our economy. However, it also highlights that Further Education is often overlooked in favour of an academic university education.
So, it recommends that the funding for economically valuable adult education courses should be increased by at least £1 billion over the next spending review.
The review also made recommendations for making FE Colleges stronger and more efficient by encouraging smaller colleges in rural areas to group together and to make sure that there is an even distribution of provision of Level 4 and 5 courses in all areas. They also recommend allowing colleges more flexibility in allocating their own budgets in line with local business needs.
Students who wish to study vocational subjects will benefit from the increased investment and better-quality teaching facilities that will come out of this. Accessing these courses should become easier too. The wider economy should also benefit from the potential increases in the number of people attaining these in-demand technical qualifications.