Shaid Mahmood, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), has joined leaders from across the education sector to call for a unified funding system for English universities and further education colleges.
Speaking at a debate hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank with support from ourselves, Shaid told an audience of politicians, policy makers, journalists and other opinion leaders that colleges and universities have three opportunities:
To explore what colleges and universities can best focus on in regional collaborations;
To widen access and participation; and
On research and development.
‘Pitted against each other’
Shaid, who is also Chair of the Association of Colleges, said that funding arrangements meant colleges and universities were pitted against each other, but current circumstances present an opportunity to do things differently, be real and ambitious, and create an ecosystem that supports learners through adequate maintenance provision and delivers the workforce that our rapidly changing economy is demanding.
He added that universities like Durham can be part of that ecosystem, but it must be funded in a long-term, sustainable way that encourages collaboration between further education colleges and universities and together makes a strong case to the UK Government to resource institutions better.
Leading voices from across education
Shaid was speaking at ‘Towards a Full Tertiary Funding System’, held in London on Thursday 16 November. The event was chaired by Sir Philip Augar, who chaired the Post-18 Education and Funding Review Panel.
The other panellists were: Paul Blomfield MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Students; David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges; Professor Sandra McNally, Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research, University of Surrey; and Iain Mansfield, Director of Research and Head of Education and Science, Policy Exchange.
Mr Blomfield said a failure to address what he called a crisis in the student funding system would negate all attempts to widen participation. Mr Hughes said the current mixture of post-17 education was not delivering the mix of skills needed. Prof McNally said too many people were not even achieving good upper secondary level education. Mr Mansfield said the system meant the most advantaged people were the best funded in tertiary education, which he said could not be right.
This event was part of a thought leadership series that we are supporting, aimed at influencing policy debate. We have partnered with Policy Exchange on a debate exploring higher education funding, co-hosted fringe events at the Conservative and Labour party conferences and commissioned The Purpose Coalition to undertake a study of our contribution to social mobility.