Westminster Higher Education Forum

Next steps for Post-18 education - tuition fees, value for money, broadening student choice and meeting the skills gap

Morning, Tuesday, 26th March 2019

The Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street, London SW1X 7DR


This timely conference will examine the next steps for Post-18 education and funding in the UK.

It will be an opportunity for delegates to discuss the interim findings from the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding, looking at the scope of possible changes needed to ensure the higher education system is offering value for money, accessible to all and tailored to the needs of UK industry.

Sessions will consider how students can be better informed of the range of Post-18 education options, encompassing academic, vocational and technical routes. With the Education Select Committee’s recent report on Value for Money in HE calling on the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding to design a funding model which supports a wider range of pathways in higher education and encourage non-linear routes, delegates will discuss how student choice can be expanded and how courses other than traditional university degrees could be used to meet the current skills gap and prepare for future changes to the economy.

This comes as the Education Secretary recently announced plans to establish a system of employer-led national standards for higher technical education, overseen by the soon-to-become Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, while also announcing that T-Levels will be given equal UCAS tariff points to 3 A Levels. Delegates will consider whether these measures are sufficient to ensure that technical qualifications achieve parity of esteem with academic qualifications. 

Further sessions will address how universities allocate spending between teaching, student support, estates and other priorities, and how far students and taxpayers are entitled to have a clearer understanding of how tuition fees are spent by universities. This follows the publication of the ‘Following the Pound’ report by HEPI, giving a broad outline of how universities allocate funds but also highlighting how universities can improve transparency and public understanding with regards to spending across the sector.

Delegates will also assess whether tuition fees currently represent value for money for students and taxpayers.

This comes as the Office for National Statistics announced that it will take a partitioned loan-transfer approach towards student loans from September 2019, which will treat student loans partly as financial assets and partly as government expenditure. According to estimates by the Office for Budget Responsibility, public sector net borrowing for the financial year ending 2019 would rise by approximately £12bn under this arrangement.

Attendees will also examine how fee rates and the student loan repayment system impact disadvantaged students, and how systems might be redesigned to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to have access to wider education options, as well as consider the implications of potential changes to fees on social mobility, university funds and solvency, and the national debt.

Keynote Speaker

Ali Jaffer

Head of Policy and Innovation, Education, Social Mobility Commission


Rt Hon the Lord Blunkett

former Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Rt Hon David Davis MP

former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Member, House of Commons


David Bailey

Deputy Director, Public Sector Division, National Accounts & Economic Statistics, Office for National Statistics

Professor Margaret House

Vice Chancellor, Leeds Trinity University

Sarah Stevens

Head of Policy, The Russell Group

Bill Rammell

Vice-Chancellor, University of Bedfordshire and former Minister, Further and Higher Education, Department for Education (2005-08)

Shakira Martin

President, NUS

Nick Hillman

Director, Higher Education Policy Institute

Evie Aspinall

President, Cambridge University Students’ Union

Harry Anderson

Senior Policy Advisor, Further and Higher Education, CBI

Julian Gravatt

Deputy Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

Dr Joy Kettyle

Principal and Chief Executive, Waltham Forest College