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NUS – Browne Review Summary – 12th October 2010 January 2, 2011

Posted by AaronPorter in Uncategorized.
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NUS – Browne Review Summary

Browne Review: Initial Summary

Fees
 
The review recommends abolishing the current £3,290 a year cap on tuition fees altogether. However, the report recommends imposing a “levy” on universities that charge more than £6,000. This means they will have to give a set amount back to the Treasury to cover the additional cost of providing upfront loans to students taking the most expensive courses.
 
If fees are set at £9,000, universities must give the Government 50 per cent of every additional £1,000 charged above £6,000. If fees at set at £12,000, they must hand over 75 per cent of each additional £1,000.
 
Tuition Fee Loans
 
Loans: At the moment students can take out a loan of £3,290 a year to cover fees (and between £3,500 and £4,950 for living costs), depending on household income. Under the Browne review, they can take out a loan to cover the new-style variable fees (however high they rise) and loans for living costs will be at a flat rate of £3,750 for all students.
 
Repayment: Currently, students repay nine per cent of all income above £15,000. Browne recommends that this threshold should rise to nine per cent of salary above £21,000. The interest rate will also rise. Student loans will accrue 2.2 per cent interest above the Government’s rate of borrowing; a total of 5.3 per cent at current levels. However, Lord Browne suggests protecting the poorest by ensuring interest rates remain at zero for graduates earning below £21,000.
 
The report recommends wiping out student debts after 30 years – compared with 25 at the moment. Taken together Browne expects that these measures will lead to the richest 40 per cent of graduates paying far more overall while the poorest fifth pay significantly less.
 
Student Grants
 
Currently, if household income is below £25,000 students are eligible for a full £2,906 grant. Under the proposals, the cut off would remain at £25,000 but the full grant would grow to £3,250. In addition students are currently not eligible for anything if parents earn £50,000 or more, but the review recommends giving students access to small grants if household income is below £60,000.
 
At the moment, students are also eligible for bursaries direct from universities themselves. Institutions have to give eligible students a minimum bursary of £300 and both these and additional discretionary bursaries are regulated by OFFA (the Office of Fair Access). The review recommends scrapping the minimum bursary requirement, suggesting that universities spend the extra money on “roadshows” and summer schools to attract students from poor backgrounds instead.
 
For the first time, part-time students will be eligible for the full range of loans benefits to enable people to work while they study.
 
Admissions & Access
 
The review suggests an increase in the number of places, suggesting numbers should rise by 10 per cent– (some 30,000 over three years). The report makes clear that the allocation should reflect student demand- and so would be varied across institutions.
 
The review also recommends tightening up scrutiny of university admissions policies to ensure poor pupils to not face discrimination. Where universities charge £7,000 or more, they should be kept under the tightest scrutiny, it says.
 
In addition only students meeting minimum entry criteria – which will be set out by Government – will be eligible for state-funded loans.
 
Quality
 
Building on work being done jointly between NUS and UUK, Browne recommends that each University be required to sets its own Student Charter setting out minimum standards and expectations- commitments on teaching/contact time, class sizes and the names of lecturers responsible for courses.
 
The review also builds on recommendations in last year’s HE review on public information, calling for universities to publish details of graduates’ employment prospects. This will give data on the proportion of graduates entering jobs after a year, average salaries and the number of students completing courses.
 
Other Issues
 
On Postgraduate education, Browne finds “no evidence” that changes to funding or student finance are needed to support student demand or access.
 
The report also asserts that “Businesses will not be compelled to contribute more – they contribute by rewarding graduates with higher wages”
 
The structural system changes under the proposals. This includes the closure of the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator), the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency), HEFCE (The Higher Education Funding Council for England) and OFFA (The Office of Fair Access). These bodies will be replaced by a single Higher Education Council
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