Scrutiny calls for long-term approach to higher education funding

Thursday 29 March 15:47

Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel publishes its report on the Student Finance Proposals

The Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel today published its report on the student finance proposals which are due to be debated by the States Assembly on 10th April 2018. If adopted by the States Assembly, the proposals would significantly increase the support available to students accessing higher education.  
The Panel appointed Mr. Bahram Bekhradnia of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) as its expert advisor during the review after having assisted the Panel in its previous review of student finance. Mr. Bekhradnia undertook a desk-top study of the proposals and concluded that whilst the proposals would certainly increase the support available to students, concerns existed in relation to the robustness of the modelling undertaken. Specific issues included the ‘deadweight’ created from providing funding to some of the wealthiest households in the Island, underestimating the future demand for the scheme and an apparent lack of any consideration for other types of funding (i.e. a loan scheme).  The Panel addressed these concerns with the Minister for Treasury and Resources and the Assistant Minister for Education and has subsequently made recommendations to the proposed model:  
1. The manner in which maintenance fees are paid should be reviewed in order to ensure it is flexible to meet the needs of students,  2. A contingency fund should be established to compensate for any additional demands on the scheme, and the Minister should report back to the Assembly on the take-up in October 2018.  3. The Minister for Treasury and Resources should provide detailed costings and analysis of a loan scheme for funding higher education  
4. The proposal should be an interim measure only and it should be reviewed prior to the end of the current MTFP to ensure it is appropriately targeted.  
Whilst the Panel acknowledges that the proposals would provide significant support immediately, it believes that on the basis of the concerns raised by its advisor they should be brought forward as an interim solution only.  
Deputy Jeremy Maçon, Chairman of the Panel said: “There is no doubt that what has been brought forward to the States Assembly will immediately address the issue of the costs of higher education that has affected so many families in recent years. Whilst the Panel is pleased that something has finally been brought forward to address this issue, the proposals should only be seen as an interim measure, and further work is required to identify a more appropriate long-term solution to the issue of funding higher education.” 

Click HERE to read the full report.

States of Jersey Press Release.


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