I chair the Higher Education Commission, which draws together figures from politics, business, and academe. I co-chaired our most recent inquiry into the financial sustainability of higher education. The report – you can read it here – was released yesterday and attracted notable attention in the press. It was the lead story in the Independent. I did lunchtime interviews for The World at One and Radio5 Live, as well as a recorded interview.
The report argues that the present situation is not sustainable, at least not in terms of the criteria we advance. However, there is no magic bullet. We identified and assessed six options, ranging from a tweaking of the existing system through to lifting the fee cap and differential fees. Each has its merits, but each also has its drawbacks. Our task was not so much as to provide the answer, but to get an informed debate. The danger otherwise is that it will be seen as a problem, but too difficult to tackle. Our starting point was that higher education in the UK is among the best in the world and that we need to ensure that it remains so.