MEMORANDUM FROM PROFESSOR JOHN BEATH (HE
Further to the evidence that I gave to the Education
Sub-committee last Wednesday, I have enclosed a short note that
I think provides a framework for the discussion that we had at
the meeting. It also helps clarify the answer that I gave to Mr
Sheerman about returning to the old system of student maintenance.
As the latter provided a very clear financial safety net, it represented
a policy that had a direct impact on what has emerged as one of
the two key factors in drop-out: the student debt problem. If
the aim of policy is to increase retention rates, thenas
the note arguesyou need in principle to address both that
problem and the other main issue in retention: effective student
support and guidance to minimise academic failure. These are the
two resource issues that I set out in the last paragraph of the
notecall them RD and RS respectively. The overall policy
dilemma is to find the right mix of RD and RS. There is obviously
a wide range of mixes, all the way from RD alone through to RS
alone. Sir Michael Bett and David Packham had placed considerable
emphasis on RS. The point that I was trying to make was that,
while I believe that RS is the more important, we must not forget
RD. I actually believe that what we need is a balance between
the two. The real task for policy makers will be to design and
implement an effective mechanism to deliver this.
I hope that you may be able to pass on the content
of this letter and a copy of my note to the members of the Sub-committee.
I should also like to take this opportunity to thank them formally
for their courtesy in inviting me to meet them.
27 January 2001