Select Committee on Education and Skills Sixth Report


Exploration of alternative models

  121. That the Government's review has been conducted behind closed doors has made it difficult for us to engage with the Department in a constructive manner. We trust that there has been in-depth research carried out on the impact of the current student support regime and that during the review there has been an open minded exploration of alternative models by the review team and a willingness to consider radical options. Anything less will be unlikely to yield a successful outcome. We expect the findings of the Government review, and the full and detailed arguments they balanced on each of the options they considered, to be published.

Effective promotion and communication

  122. Given the complex nature of society and the need to use public resources to target particular groups, any student support system is likely to be complex. The failure of the current system to be understood by those directly affected will limit the success of future proposals unless lessons are learnt from this experience. We encourage the Government to explore innovative communication and advertising methods to ensure that the affordability message is effectively conveyed to target communities.


  123. More research is needed on the impact of the current student support regime. We recommend that the Government should continue to conduct research on the impact of the current student support regime as it affects student choices in terms of subject, institution, career path and patterns of study together with the impact of debt on graduates.

124. In developing the research base, the Government is encouraged to look beyond its own offices and to use the experience and expertise of the private sector in exploring potential and actual impact on graduates' ability to take out mortgages and other major financial commitments; their use of credit and their decisions to start families. Such research should, of course, pay particular attention to differences in the impact of policy across gender, ethnic, social class and age groups and should take into account both the programme of study and institution attended.

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