Submission from the British Association
DIUS SELECT COMMITTEE
This response is made on behalf of the British
Association of Psychotherapists, one of the premier psychotherapy
training organisations in the country.
The British Association of Psychotherapists
currently runs two programmes collaboratively run with Birkbeck
College, University of London. These are an MSc in the Psychodynamics
of Human Development and a Clinical Doctorate for Child Psychotherapy.
The MSc programme provides a pathway through to the three clinical
trainings offered at the BAP and to other psychotherapy trainings
across the country. One of the particular strengths of our MSc
programme is that it enables under-represented groups to access
psychotherapy trainings, and if funding were to be withdrawn,
it would be these very people who would be most affected.
The arguments for and against the Government's
decision to phase out support to institutions for students studying
Equivalent or Lower Level Qualifications (ELQs):
(a) There is no reasonable argument for withdrawing
support for students studying ELQs as it does not accord with
the government's stated aim of developing the skill levels of
(b) The targets outlined in the "Leitch"
skills agenda expect that by 2020 40% of the workforce would have
Higher Education qualifications. This would require universities
to cater for mature students already in the workplace as well
as school-leavers. It is particularly invidious that the capitalLondon
will be hardest hit by this loss of funds as thirty of the 50
universities most affected by these cuts are in London. This will
ultimately decrease their capacity to meet the government's new
skills agenda and eventually lead to a lowering of skill levels
(c) The impact of this decrease in ELQ funding
will disproportionately hit the part-time sector, as the effect
to this sector will be 10 times greater than on full time providers.
(d) These enormous cut-backs will definitely
reduce the provision for part time students as they will result
in many of these courses ceasing to be financially viable. This
will, inevitably lead to some courses being dropped and in all
likelihood the closure of some university departments.
(e) This proposed policy represents serious
cutbacks in funding for the professional study that is needed
if competent professionals are to be developed to manage a workforce
(f) Many mental health practitioners become
ELQ students in order to improve their skills in their jobs and
these cuts will make the cost of acquiring wider skills prohibitive
and consequently, be detrimental to mental health services.
(g) ELQ students often do not fit the model
of more traditional students and often bring different and interesting
perspectives to the class, which can have a positive and enlivening
influence on the dynamics.
2. THE TIMING
(a) The government did not consult on the
proposed changes and the timescale that is proposed does not allow
the institutions to deal with the financial shortfalls in the
least disruptive way possible.
(b) Such changes would affect all institutions
offering part-time courses and in particular Birkbeck and the
Open University It is however true to say that the government
did (in quite a short timeframe) consult on the interim measures
for introducing these changes and that is an entirely different
basis for consultation on such an important issue.
(c) As the fees commission meets in 2009
it would be more appropriate to wait for the outcome of these
meetings where ELQ funding can be discussed as part of the overall
review of student funding. Failing that, any decisions should
at least await the conclusion of the Select Committee enquiry.
3. THE EXEMPTIONS
(a) There should be exemptions for any student
returning to education more than five years after the date of
their last qualification whether at an equivalent or lower level.
(b) All Health related courses including
psychotherapy and psychological trainings should be exempt.
(c) Subject areas which add to an individual's
career development should be exempt for example IT, business,
4. THE IMPACT
These cuts will particularly affect:
(a) Students undertaking professional trainings
and continuing professional development (CPD) who are considered
ELQ students and because of the increased fees will in future
be unlikely to take such trainings and courses.
(b) Students trying to re-skill after redundancy
or other changes in personal circumstances.
(c) Disabled students trying to re-skill
when their disability makes it impossible to continue in their
(d) Parents, in particular women who, after
having raised a family are trying to re-skill to re-enter the
workforce. A high proportion of such women are ELQ students and
the present proposals create additional hurdles for them to overcome
in their attempt to improve their position and their contribution
to the national economy.
5. THE IMPACT
The following statistics come from Birkbeck our
partner on two programmes
(a) The funding cuts are likely to have a
severe impact on Birkbeck as approximately 38% of Birkbeck students
are ELQ students.
(b) Both the Open University and Birkbeck
are likely to be focusing on dealing with these cutbacks rather
than on delivering education.
(c) Birkbeck is very well placed to deliver
the government's skills agenda as Educating working people has
been part of its mission since 1823. As a small institution it
will inevitably be distracted from its prime role.
(d) Many courses would have to close as they
would cease to be viable when ELQ students are unable to afford
the increased fees.
(e) Over 70% of Birkbeck students study to
improve their career prospects, and over 90% choose to study in
the evening because they work during the day. Such study increases
their contribution to the economy.
(f) 50% of Birkbeck students are on low incomes
and working hard to improve their career prospectsthis
year, 33% of Birkbeck undergraduate students applied for government
financial support. Thus many of Birkbeck's ELQ students will have
great difficulties in meeting any increased fees and in many cases
unlikely to be able to afford to do the courses.
(g) The average age of a Birkbeck student
is 35. As the economy demands that people are more flexible in
their working lives the opportunities for re-skilling need to
be available to people throughout their lives. People through
no fault of their own, sometimes have to change direction, often
because of redundancy or disability.
(h) Such cuts are more than likely to have
a seriously destabilising effect on the work of this important,
high-quality, research-led, world-class, London institution.
(i) In a small educational institution such
as Birkbeck, the management will find it extremely difficult to
deliver the full range of planned initiatives which include widening
participation and employer engagement in education if they have
to divert resources into dealing with the fallout from the ELQ
6. WHAT THE
(a) Revisit this policy and do not consider
implementing any of it before 2009 at the earliest, after the
broad review of student funding has taken place or, at least until
the Select Committee has conluded its enquiry.
(b) Birkbeck and the Open University give
people a second chance and will be hardest hit. They should not
have their funding removed in the short term, but be allowed to
keep their funding and student places and given an opportunity
over a number of years in which to re-focus on non-ELQ students
in line with whatever government policy is finally agreed and
(c) Exempt all students returning to study
more than five years after their last degree.
(d) Exempt all vocational and healthcare
courses (eg law and psychotherapy) from the ELQ policy as students
doing these courses are likely to be doing these courses to improve
their their skills in their current jobs and or their employment