1. The Prime Minister announced a review of student
support at the Labour Party conference in October 2001, citing
as the driving force public concern about student debt which was
articulated during the last election.
The Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Rt Hon Estelle
Morris, is leading the cross-departmental review, involving the
Department for Education and Skills, Number 10 and the Treasury.
2. The Government's review has four aims:
- simplification of the system, especially in the
area of hardship support;
- provision of more up-front support for students
from less well-off backgrounds;
- ensuring that all students have access to sufficient
financial support throughout their years in higher education;
- tackling the problems of debt and the perception
A consultation is expected in the autumn of 2002
based on the findings of the review.
3. This report is intended to inform the Government's
review and provide a framework within which its proposals may
be scrutinised and to give the Government a number of sensible
options to consider.
4. Throughout our inquiry we have been mindful of
the importance of investment across post-16 education. It is regrettable
that the terms of reference of the Government's review are limited
to higher education. It is our view that the top priorities for
investment must be pay, research, regeneration and student support.
It has been with these competing priorities in mind that we have
considered possible approaches to student support, with a view
to ensuring that money flows to those who need it, at the time
they need it most.