CBI: don't divert funds to primary schools

February 28, 1997

Widely mooted plans to redirect education budget funds from higher education into primary education would not be supported by business, the Confederation of British Industry said this week.

Launching the CBI's consultation document on education funding, Does it Add Up?, education and training director Tony Webb said that higher education "looked like the obvious budget to slash" but the risks to the economy were too great and the overall benefits too uncertain. "Getting it right first time is a well understood business principle," the report acknowledges. "Excellent early years and primary education to provide all children with the right foundation is clearly needed. Higher education is relatively well-funded, while primary schools receive the smallest sums per student. In theory, improved learning in early years would make it possible to deliver the rest of each child's education with fewer resources."

But any cuts to higher education funding would mean sacrificing the CBI's stated goal of "an expanded, high-quality higher education system" and would be to the detriment of "a competitive economy", the report warns.

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