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Ian Brinkley

Government acceptance of key recommendation from the Browne Review will boost the knowledge economy

Authors: Ian Brinkley Nasreen Memon

03 November 2010

For immediate release 3 November 2010

Increasing the cap on tuition fees offers the only viable option for the future funding of higher education, given the budget cuts announced in last month’s Spending Review, according to The Work Foundation.

'In raising the cap, the Coalition Government is showing its commitment to the knowledge economy, as this will allow for the sustained expansion in output from our universities without sacrificing quality,' said associate director Ian Brinkley.

Recent research from The Work Foundation highlights just how important a priority this is. Shaping up for innovation concludes that, despite the dramatic expansion in students graduating each year, the economy does not have an oversupply of graduates. High unemployment is affecting graduates in the short-term but as the economy recovers, long-term demand will increase as the knowledge economy develops. 'Meeting this need must be a central priority for the Coalition Government. Given the current fiscal climate, the only option available to the government is to increase fees,' according to report author Charles Levy.

'However, there are major risks associated with this reform,' added Ian Brinkley. 'If the intention is just to replace public money with higher contributions from students, the higher education system as a whole will struggle to expand and drive up quality. Both will be essential over the next decade. We can not say with confidence how prospective students will respond to higher fees and the fear of greater debt. Individuals who might have attended less prestigious universities may be particularly put off by these changes. If the government is to sustain the expansion in higher education, then they may need to be flexible if it transpires that the reforms have gone too far too quickly,' he concluded.


Notes to editors

  1. Charles Levy and associate director Ian Brinkley are available for interviews and briefings.
  2. The term ‘knowledge economy’ describes the transition from an economy that primarily relies on investment in physical assets – buildings, machines, office equipment, vehicles – to one where competitive advantage and organisational performance rests on investment in knowledge-based assets – software and R&D, design, brand equity, human and organisational capital.
  3. The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.

Media enquiries:

Tom Phillips 0207 976 3554

Nasreen Memon 020 7976 3507 or 07825 527 036