At a party conference held last week, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a major review of university finance, which could change the way universities are funded.
While the terms of the review are still yet to be announced, new policies could potentially include a return of the student numbers cap, and even reducing the current cost of tuition fees.
The decision has been widely criticised as a political move in response to the electoral impact of Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees and return maintenance grants in the latest election.
One critic, Andy Westwood, government practice professor at the University of Manchester, stated that a finance review was politically inevitable under the current circumstances.
He also suggested that the Conservative party in fact had “some very clear objectives” from it, with “price differentiation, price competition and a big theme on value for money and cross subsidy” adding to the current Conservative focus on the marketisation of education.
However, the director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Nick Hillman, offered a more positive attitude towards the outcomes of the review. He stated that if it was a “genuine review” then “absolutely everything gets thrown up in the air again.”
While this poses a potential risk for universities, Mr. Hillman claims it could also “lead to some improvements for part-time students, [whose numbers] have had a massive decline or there could be some extra focus on the quality of the student experience, or it could lead to the redisposition of student number controls and less money for funding each student.”