Dearing's terms of reference

February 23, 1996

The inquiry has been asked to make recommendations on how the shape, structure, size and funding of higher education, including support for students, should develop to meet the needs of the UK over the next 20 years.

The committee should have regard, within the constraints of affordability and the Government's overall spending priorities, to the following principles:

* there should be maximum participation in initial higher education by young and mature students and lifetime learning by adults insofar as this can be shown to be consistent with the needs of the nation and the future labour market

* students should be able to choose between a range of courses, institutions, modes and locations of study

* standards of degree and other higher education qualifications should be maintained and assured

* the quality and relevance to employment needs of teaching and learning and higher education's contribution to basic, strategic and applied research should be enhanced to match international standards of excellence

* arrangements for student support should be equitable and not distort students' choices inappropriately.

The committee should report by summer,1997.

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