Select Committee on Education and Skills Sixth Report


The Education and Skills Committee has agreed to the following Report:



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.[1] 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 of debt.

A consultation is expected in the autumn of 2002 based on the findings of the review.[2]

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.

1   "Voters prompt grants rethink", BBC News online, Friday 5 October 2001 Back

2   HL Deb 4 February 2002 vol 631 col 451 Back

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