- Higher education – a world
brings on average 20 per cent higher earnings and a 50 per cent
lower chance of unemployment. It is time for an historic
commitment to open higher education to half of all young people
before they are 30, combined with increased investment to maintain
- In 1997
we inherited a system where the number
of qualified people able to go to university was capped. Today,
the numbers are rising and universities have the funds to expand,
with new two-year foundation degrees to offer students the option
of a vocationally relevant, high-quality qualification as a way
into skilled work or further study. Over the next three years, we
will continue to expand student numbers, taking us towards our 50
per cent target.
We will maintain
university entry standards while intensifying efforts to extend
the huge advantages that a university education confers to able
young people from all backgrounds. University summer schools,
master classes and mentoring support will be offered to potential
students from disadvantaged areas through a new Excellence
Challenge programme, backed up by £190 million of funding.
We will not
introduce ‘top-up’ fees and have legislated to prevent them.
Since 1997 we have increased university funding by more than a
billion pounds a year over the Parliament – and invested
considerably more in research. Our new system of university
finance ensures that 50 per cent of students pay no tuition fees
at all, that no parents pay more than under the old system, and
that students pay back loans progressively when they are earning.
We will ensure that the funding system continues to promote access
We will strengthen
research and teaching excellence. It is vital that our
world-leading universities are able to compete with the best
internationally. We will also support world-class research and the
development of public-private partnerships. We are determined to
ensure that our universities have the freedom and incentives to
meet our ambitions for them. Reforms to the inspection system for
teaching will slash red tape for higher performing departments.