The Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) submitted a response to the Department for Education’s consultation on higher education reform, and has now published a summary of it.
Our response focussed on the issue of Student Number Controls (SNCs), which we oppose. We framed it largely around the wider economic impacts of reducing the number of graduates, and the consequences for individual students and less-well off areas of the country, as that was evidence we hoped government might listen to. We argued against both SNCs in general and DfE consultation proposals to impose them by subject or institution, again linking to evidence.
We also noted the importance of the issue of student funding and the changes made to the terms of student loans. The Institute for Fiscal Studies and other bodies have already documented that the changes in loan repayments are regressive, result in high marginal rates of tax, and will affect disadvantaged students more. It is hard to see how these new terms will be sustainable for long, and the issue of who pays for university degrees is likely to return as a policy concern.
Our response of course noted the importance of social science subjects in broader ways too.
AcSS recently posted an outward facing version of our response to the Office for Students (OfS) policy proposals for addressing quality and value for university courses. Our response focussed on the employment outcome measures OfS plans to use in regulating course quality, and is also relevant to the issue of Student Number Controls.
OfS plans to use employability metrics from autumn 2022. So university social science leaders will want to engage with the continuation, completion and employability evidence about each social science course within their own HEI. Our consultation response provides some useful evidence resources.