Marked absences

July 20, 2017

It was disappointing that the article about England’s student finance system (“One in three v-cs backs Labour fees policy: survey”, News, 13 July) contained no reference to the funding regime for part-time and mature students.

The debate around the abolition of tuition fees and student loans is already far too narrow. It focuses on entry to higher education entirely from the perspective of an 18-year-old school-leaver. The article does not adequately explore whether abolishing fees and restoring maintenance grants would include part-time students, who tend to be older and, by definition, local. There is a further question under such a regime as to whether all subjects would then be exempt from restrictions on studying for equivalent and lower-level qualifications (such study is important in allowing graduates to reskill or upskill). This must be supported and recognised in any funding system.

The current fees and loans system largely works well for full-time undergraduate students, but let’s not forget that that is not everyone who enters higher education.

David Latchman
Master, Birkbeck, University of London

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