Responding to the Government announcements in light of decisions made following the Augar Review, Dr Katerina Kolyva, Chief Executive of the Council of Deans of Health said:
“The Council of Deans of Health welcomes the greater clarity and certainty the Government response to the Augar Review now offers after a long wait. While many of our university members will be happy there was no uncompensated fee cut, the freeze does present challenges as inflation sees them being expected to deliver the same level of quality education with less resource.
With this in mind, it was very positive to see the Government’s explicit prioritisation of courses that support the NHS being backed up with a plan for the Office for Students to continue to channel funding to these priority programmes. We look forward to working closely with the OfS and Government on the details of this. We will also be happy to work with the OfS on highlighting student outcomes, our members have positive experiences to share, but we hope this will not be burdensome and add further red tape to the primary job of education our members do.
Healthcare has a strong record for social mobility and lifelong learning, upskilling those in current roles and bringing people into these professions following previous careers. The Lifelong Learning Entitlement being brought in for 2025 is good news and we will be feeding into the consultation. The promotion of the Further Education route is an important complement to the Higher Education one and we are keen to avoid pitting them against each other. Both are valid paths and we want to see better collaboration across Higher and Further education with strong Government ambition for both.
The new student loan terms for the student intake of 2023/4 will see them only paying back the amount they borrowed plus inflation but also facing a longer loan period of 40 years, up from 30, and at a lower salary threshold for repayment of £25,000, down from £27,000. This would see the average graduate nurse now starting to repay their loan from month one of the job unless salaries also rise accordingly, so there is a possible mixed picture here and we will need to work with Government and health and education sector partners to ensure this does not negatively impact recruitment.
We will continue to work on our sector’s strong commitment to social mobility and widening participation so have questions over the possibility of minimum grades for student finance but welcome that this will be consulted on as there is a range of views on this across our membership. We do agree with the Government that a post-qualification admissions system was not the best way to promote access so are glad the huge disruption this would cause has been fully ruled out. We will want to look into the details around plans for foundation courses as these can be important routes for under-represented students and need funding accordingly.
There is lots to still digest and many questions remaining but the Council of Deans of Health welcomes this first step. We look forward to working with the Secretary of State and Ministers to deliver for our members, students and the public we serve.”
Read the full statement: CoDH Augar Briefing 24 Feb 22