School leavers should be given £10,000 to put towards further education, according to a new study. According to the report, every young person in England – as well as adults who didn’t go to university – should receive state funding to help pay for university tuition fees or other qualifications. The move would apparently help to boost higher education, and encourage take-up a wider range of courses.
Such a scheme – which has been dubbed a ‘national learning entitlement, or NLE – would cost the public purse around £8.5billion a year, the study’s authors estimate. The paper, published by the Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economics Societies (LLAKES) at the UCL Institute of Education, proposes that every young person become eligible to receive the money on their 18th birthday. They would be given access to a maximum of £5,000 a year for two years to spend on courses – £10,000 in total. The money could be put towards university degrees or non-degree courses (Picture: Getty Images) The authors suggest the cash could be put towards full-time degree courses, or towards other forms of education, such as part-time study. The money could be spread out over a lifetime if necessary, they add.
Such a scheme would essentially cut university tuition fees for students, as they could put £5,000 towards the cost for the first two years of their course. Students would still get loans to cover the rest of their tuition fees, which are currently set at a maximum of £9,250 a year in England. The scheme would also help spread public cash beyond just students who want to get a degree, helping young people look into other non-degree courses, and encouraging adults to get back into education. It would encourage people to take a greater variety of courses (Picture: Getty Images) ‘Instead of a monoculture of full-time three-year degrees, we will see a proliferation of offers suiting tastes of all kinds,’ the study says. ‘The proposal takes the debate beyond the current narrow focus on university education and student debt, to a braoder and more inclusive system which would encourage learning at all ages by a diverse range of students, at a lower cost than the abolition of university fees.’ It adds: ‘By going beyond university students the NLE spreads public subsidy far more equitably and efficiently. ‘It brings into play the other 50% of the youth cohort, as well as adults who have missed out first time round. It strongly encourages diversity of provision, and so matches supply better to demand.