The British Academy responds to DfE’s consultation on higher education reform options
6 May 2022
Today the British Academy has submitted its response to the Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation on higher education reform.
The consultation follows the government’s response to the Review of English Post-18 Education and Funding and the independent panel chaired by Sir Philip Augar, which reported to the Review in 2019.
The Academy’s response builds on previous submissions it has made to the Review and engages specifically with questions surrounding the potential implementation of student number controls and minimum eligibility requirements – issues that have a direct impact on the ongoing health and vibrancy of SHAPE subjects (Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy).
Hetan Shah, Chief Executive of the British Academy, said:
“We agree that higher education study should lead to positive outcomes for students, the economy and society and there is much evidence to show that to be the case across the SHAPE subjects. However, prioritising provision based on definitions of outcomes that overemphasise graduate destinations and post-graduation salaries could lead to the closure of many high-quality courses which provide other kinds of value. This would harm the overall sector and reduce student choice.
“Meanwhile, the Academy opposes the introduction of minimum eligibility requirements, not least because the concept rests on several false assumptions, including that a student’s achievement is a pure reflection of their academic potential. We recognise the importance of ensuring students are well equipped for post-18 study that will allow them to succeed, but structural inequalities faced by those from more disadvantaged backgrounds play a huge role in student attainment. The Academy believes that higher education should be a tool for removing barriers to social mobility, not adding to them.
“The Academy will continue to engage with government and stakeholders across the sector to ensure the post-18 education system and SHAPE subjects are well supported given their strategically important role in supporting the UK’s current and future prosperity.”
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