Second degrees are vital asset 1

September 21, 2007

The Government's decision to discontinue funding for students with an existing degree who take a second equivalent or lower qualification ("Denham stands by funding cuts", September 14) is depressing.

This woolly-headed policy on the hoof has no evidence base and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about the purpose of students taking a second qualification. These are not job-shirking layabouts, but individuals preparing themselves for work. The many for whom this is the only route into the professions now face much higher fees.

The implicit assumption that the only progression route is A level undergraduate-post-graduate must be challenged.

The move, which is intended to save £100 million a year (less than 1.5 per cent of the Higher Education Funding Council for England's annual allocations), to be reinvested in the sector, will create a huge amount of extra work for universities separating out these students and dealing with the "exceptions" we are told to expect. There has been no impact assessment, there is no rationale and there is no genuine commitment to lifelong learning.

Philip Harding
Finance director Westminster University

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