Theresa May to woo parents with pledge to tackle university fees

Mr Hinds insisted the review into tuition fees was a real look at how the system works

"If you've benefitted from a university degree, we know that typically people earn over £100,000 more over the course of their life. then you should be making a big part of that investment", Mr Hinds said.

The Government's long-awaited review of university funding, which is been seen as a response to Labour's popular policy of scrapping fees in England, is expected to be announced this week.

Prime Minister Theresa May will today launch a major review of higher education, probing the cost to students and telling parents to shake off the "outdated attitude" that university is the only option after school.

The Treasury select committee, chaired by former education secretary Nicky Morgan, has raised concerns about the high level of interest rates.

The prime minister is to call for better value for students in England, admitting they face "one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world".

For many students, the prime minister will say, "the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course". All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses.

Mr Hinds refused to be drawn on whether the review could lead to a fall in tuition fees.

The review will look more broadly than university fees and will consider support for vocational training and apprenticeships in "post-18 education".

"The thing that really matters from my perspective is social mobility, and making sure we don't end up with a system where young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds feel like they ought to do one of the cheaper degrees, rather than doing the degree they actually want that will unlock their potential in the future", she told the BBC.

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"That is what this current system does".

"That could include lower-cost ways of delivering education, it might mean shorter courses - which also means less time out of the labour market - more opportunities to be able to study while you work".

Calculations by the London Economics consultancy firm found that cutting fees down to £6,000 would take more than £3bn a year away from universities, and mainly benefit higher earning graduates, who would pay less back in student loans.

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening said the road would be fraught with pitfalls.

Ms Rayner said the Conservatives had "damaged higher education and totally decimated our further education infrastructure".

The announcements are likely to be met with close scrutiny by university leaders, as some warned that finding the right balance on tuition fees and university finance is likely to mean a "series of hard trade-offs".

Professor Dame Janet Beer, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said: "Future success depends on universities having stable and sustainable funding, which the current system provides".

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said the review needed "to be radical and explore genuine alternatives to the current system, not just tinker at the edges of the current failed system".

But his predecessor Ms Greening - who was against a review - warned it would be "a challenge working out what is a beneficial degree". "We think it's right that if you benefit from a university degree you should contribute towards its cost".


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