The government’s consultation on its review of Post-18 education and funding has launched today, to close on May 2.

It is expected to focus on funding around levels four and above, and look seriously at how colleges can run more at these levels.

The aim is to create “a joined-up system that works for everyone”, according to the supporting online consultation document.

An independent panel, chaired by Philip Augar alongside five other experts, is therefore seeking evidence on “how to support young people in making effective choices between academic, technical and vocational routes after 18”.

It also wants to work out how best to “promote a more dynamic market in education and training provision”, “ensure the post-18 education system is accessible to all”, and “encourage the development of the skills that we need as a country”.

It will be looking at how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies, to “ensure funding arrangements across post-18 education in the future are transparent and do not stop people from accessing higher education or training”.

An interim stage will be published this year before the government concludes the overall review in early 2019.

“This is an ambitious and wide-ranging review. We begin with no preconceptions. Our priority is to undertake a thorough examination of the evidence and to hear from a broad range of stakeholders who like us are committed to ensuring the system works for everyone,” Mr Augar said.

Significantly for FE, the prime minister announced the launch of the review at Derby College rather than a university.

Association of Colleges boss David Hughes celebrated the decision.

“The review is significant because it is the first proper review of higher education, post-18, level four-plus provision I have ever seen,” said Mr Hughes, who was provider services director for the Skills Funding Agency until 2011.

He believes that the government is open to presenting colleges with potential opportunities to expand in to the higher education market.

“That includes opening up fair funding to incentivise people to consider level four, five and six part-time flexible learning as well,” he continued.

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