Select Committee on Education and Skills Sixth Report


125. During the course of our inquiry we have found little to challenge the principles set out by the Dearing Committee for the design of a system of student support. We have added to these criteria, drawing upon the Rees Report and other sources, and it is our intention to use them in reviewing the proposals resulting from the Government's review of student support.

126. A student support system for the future should:

  • be equitable, and encourage broadly based participation, and in particular should increase participation by first generation students;
  • require those with the means to do so to make a fair contribution to the costs of their higher education;
  • support lifelong learning, so that choices between part-time and full-time study and for discontinuous study and between higher and further education are financially neutral;
  • be easy to understand, administratively efficient and cost-effective and offer good value for money for both students and society;
  • integrate learning support across all post-compulsory education;
  • provide sufficient income, through loans, grants and access to the benefits system, to enable students to learn effectively, without detriment to their studies;
  • be integrated with the benefits system in order that students in challenging circumstances are able to access the support that they need; and
  • be additional to and not at the expense of institutional investment.

127. In oral evidence Margaret Hodge offered the following comment on the student support review: " If we do not get it right, we will pay a heavy price, not tomorrow but five or ten years down the line".[117] We concur with this view, commend the Government on its decision to undertake a substantial review, and trust that the outcomes of the review will take fully into account the considerations in this Report.

117   Q 300 Back

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