Review of Post-18 Education and Funding

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor, provides a summary of the recommendations from the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding.


Dear student,

You may have seen in media that an independent review looking at the future of post-18 education and fees has been published today.

The review has made a number of recommendations, but these won’t become automatic policy. It will be up to the next prime minister of the UK to decide which of these recommendations should be implemented.

Some of the main recommendations from the review are:

  • Home undergraduate tuition fees should be cut from £9,250 to £7,500 from the 2021-22 academic year. This fee cap should be frozen until 2022-23, then increase with inflation from 2023-24.
  • Funding lost through tuition fee income should be replaced with increased government contribution to teaching costs, particularly for “high value and high cost” subjects.
  • Maintenance grants for lower income students should be reintroduced.
  • The average per-student resource should be frozen for three years from 2021-22, with inflation based increases being reintroduced from 2023-24.
  • The repayment threshold should be "effectively frozen", and the repayment period should be extended beyond the current 30 years to 40 years. However, students’ in-study interest charges should be reduced and a cap placed on lifetime repayments.
  • Unless the sector has moved to address the problem of recruitment to courses with poor retention, poor graduate outcomes, and poor long-term earnings prospects by 2022-23, the government should intervene by setting minimum entry thresholds, a selective numbers cap, or some combination of both.
  • Financial support for foundation years should be withdrawn after an appropriate notice period, with exemptions for some specific courses granted by the Office for Students.
  • Funding for technical and vocational education should be increased, alongside a stronger maintenance offer, and a more coherent suite of higher technical and professional qualifications.
  • Cuts in adult skills provision should be reversed and greater use of part time and later life learning should be encouraged.
  • The Further Education college network should be refunded and reformed through an increased base rate of funding for high return courses and an additional £1bn of capital investment in the workforce to improve recruitment and retention.
  • The apprenticeship system should be improved by ensuring funding is targeted to those who do not already have a publicly-funded degree and by strengthening the role of Ofsted in assessing the quality of apprenticeship provision.
  • Of course, a number of these recommendations could have an impact on current and future students and that is why I am writing to you to let you know how we will be responding.

Over the coming months I will be discussing these recommendations with Students’ Union officers, colleagues, higher education bodies and members of the government.

In discussing these recommendations, and what they might mean for Sheffield, we will be making the following points clear:

  • That any reduction in fees doesn’t equate to a cut in overall university funding, which could negatively impact on the quality of our teaching and the services we offer to students.
  • That we need to listen to opinions from financial experts on whether the finance recommendations will actually benefit our students after they graduate - or whether they could lead to longer repayments at a higher overall cost.
  • That we listen to partners and employers across all sectors about the skills and experiences that they need and make sure that we protect our student education that serves them.
  • That we advocate for policies that benefit all students - no matter what you are studying and no matter what profession to choose to pursue in the future.
  • That the civic value of our university goes beyond our core functions of teaching and research and hugely impacts the economic and cultural vibrancy of our region.

I will continue to update you on policy that affects students and graduates. If you have any thoughts around this then please feel free to contact me at vc@sheffield.ac.uk

With best wishes,

Professor Koen Lamberts
President and Vice-Chancellor