But providing longer term finance is likely to come at a price. According to the Financial Times (07/05) any further support would require a ‘restructuring regime’ aimed at pruning the number of ‘low quality’ courses that do not lead to graduate jobs or provide ‘value for money’. Though more prestigious universities have suffered most from the loss of overseas tuition revenues, it’s probably the post 94 ( ex- polytechnic) institutions that will be forced to cut back on courses.
Restructuring HE is now taking on more urgency for a government which is resorting to massive borrowing, despite its commitment to neo-liberal economic principles. With a recession just around the corner, the amount of unpaid student debt is going to increase, as new graduates face unemployment, or ‘underemployment’ in lower paid work, limiting the amount they will repay.
But evidence suggests that the decline in job opportunities resulting from a major recession (a recession will further intensify the decline of the ‘middle jobs’ that technical, vocational and apprenticeship courses are designed to support) will just as likely push more, not less, young people into higher education – rather than new vocational courses offered through FE which the May and now the Johnson government want to promote as alternatives – a theme of last year’s Augar review.
Despite government promises, neither is it certain that the colleges will get the additional funding that was promised.