Lower uni fees may help local higher education

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THE Education Department would receive a funding boost for post-secondary learning if university fees were lowered in the UK and the costs for Jersey students were reduced, a new report says.

Senator Tracey Vallois Picture: ROB CURRIE. (26880841)

The Conservative Party manifesto, which was published before last December’s general election, stated that, if elected, they would consider recommendations made by the Augar review of higher education to cap tuition fees at £7,500 rather than the current level of £9,250.

In response to a recommendation on the matter in a Scrutiny review of the Government Plan, Education Minister Tracey Vallois has indicated that if this happens the money earmarked for Jersey students would be redirected to other forms of higher education.

The Education and Home Affairs Panel’s report says: ‘There is an acknowledgment that the current tuition fees level in the United Kingdom may be reduced from £9,250 per academic year.

‘In the event of a budget surplus, the Education Minister has expressed a view to utilise this in order to bring vocational courses on a par with higher-education courses.’

The panel’s recommendation says: ‘The Education Minister should ensure that in the event tuition fees are reduced in the United Kingdom, any budget surplus within the Higher Education Fund should be maintained within the Education budget and not returned to central contingencies.’

The response issued by Senator Vallois says that she has been advised that should any money become available it can remain within her department, but only if it is still spent on tertiary education.

‘Treasury has confirmed that, in the event of underspending on student tuition fees, the minister would be able to redirect unspent budget to fund different activities in higher education,’ it says.

‘It is not possible to apply it to the wider Education budget, and it would be returned to contingency if not required for higher education.’

A budget of £6 million was allocated towards higher education for this year in the Government Plan.

Currently, all students from households earning less than £110,000 per year have their tuition fees covered by the government and those earning up to £200,000 have them partially covered on a sliding scale.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath

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