The Confederation of British Industry claims in a report that there are too few courses with business links, students have a weak understanding of student finance and that careers advice available to young people looking for a more vocational route is poor.
Recommendations in Tomorrow’s Growth, released today, include:
- A single Ucas-style applications system for all business-backed university courses and industry-run training programmes.
- More “commercial nous” in universities and colleges to find skills gaps and design courses to fill them.
- A reform of student finance arrangements so that universities can design short courses and tailored programmes for business, including one- or two-year compressed degrees.
- The removal of higher education places that are fully funded by employers from the student numbers quota as they are “no burden on the taxpayer”.
- Exempt “strategically important” subjects from rules which bar public funding for part-time degrees for those with equivalent or lower qualifications, as this “holds back mature students looking to reskill”. The CBI raised concerns over the 40 per cent drop in part-time students since 2010-11.
In response, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “We share the CBI’s concern about the sharp downturn in recruitment to part-time higher education study, and the impact of this on meeting the UK’s skills needs.”