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HE overview Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 13:14 GMT
What the strategy says
student and teacher
There is a new emphasis on teaching quality
Students in England are to face tuition fees of up to 3,000 a year from 2006, depending on which course they do at which university, but they will not pay them until after they graduate.

That upper limit will then rise in line with inflation.

The first 1,100 will continue to be means-tested, with poorer students' fees being paid for them on a sliding scale up to a family income of 30,000.

The government says about 40% will pay the full amount.

In addition, from 2004, those with family incomes of less than 10,000 will get a grant of 1,000 a year as well as their full existing student loan entitlement.

A reducing amount will be paid to those on family incomes of up to 20,000.

The government says 30% of students will get the full 1,000 grant.

Unlike now, nothing will have to be paid "up front" - it will all be repaid through the tax system when and if they are working.

From 2005, the threshold at which graduates will have to start repaying will rise from 10,000 of earnings to 15,000.

They will then make annual payments of 9% of their earnings above 15,000 - though can pay off the debt more quickly if they wish.

As now, loan repayments will have no real rate of interest.

University funding

Higher education as a whole is to get an increase in total funding - including that being spent on student support - of more than 6% a year.

This will take the annual total from 7.5bn now to 10bn by 2005-06.

The total increase over the three years will be 4.5bn - 3.7bn for institutions and 800m for student support.

Universities had said they needed an extra 9.4bn over the three years to compete globally.

To encourage access to university from people from a wider range of social backgrounds, institutions will have to satisfy an "access regulator" that they are doing more to attract disadvantaged students before they can charge higher fees.

To recognise the problems of getting and keeping such students, the funding "premium" universities get for each will rise from 5% to 20% - but this is still far less than they say it actually costs.

Research

The increased amount for research of 1.25bn amounts to about 30% in real terms between now and 2005-06.

Most of the extra will go to the 55% of departments classified as nationally or internationally excellent in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise.

There is to be a new 6* rating for the very best of the internationally excellent research departments, which will get additional funding.

The government says it will encourage and reward research in larger units, including through collaboration.

It has confirmed that there will be a new Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Links with business are to be boosted with the formation of 20 "knowledge exchanges".

Teaching

There will also be extra money for pay - but tied to reform.

Universities will have to prove they have strategies that "value teaching and reward and promote good teachers".

There are to be new national standards for teaching in higher education, to make it "a valuable and high-status career in its own right".

People are to be consulted on the idea of forming a national "teaching quality academy".

From 2006 all new teaching staff will to have a qualification to do the job - whereas at present many have had no teacher training.

Teaching "centres of excellence" will get 500,000 a year for five years to promote best practice and will be able to bid for 2m in capital funding.

What is a 'university'?

At present the title of "university" can be used only by institutions that award taught degrees and research degrees.

The government is going to change the rules, to "send an important signal" about its emphasis on teaching excellence.

In future the title will be awarded on the basis of taught degrees, student numbers and the range of subjects offered.

The government says it is keen to see more collaboration between universities and further education colleges, which currently provide 11% of higher education courses.

Academic pay

The government says it plans a "twin track" on pay.

More money will be made available for universities that have good "human resource strategies".

This will reward initiatives that recruit and retain staff and recognise good performance.

Secondly it wants to see greater differentiation in salary levels, with institutions rewarding those who teach well.

Degrees

Students' views are going to be canvassed and published in an annual guide to each university, overseen by the National Union of Students.

The degree system is to be reviewed "particularly given the increasing numbers of first and upper-second class degrees being awarded."

The aim is to get a system "that has credibility with students and employers".

See also:

20 Jan 03 | Education
14 Jan 03 | Education
11 Jan 03 | Mike Baker
07 Aug 01 | Education
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