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UCU response to ONS decision on student debt reclassification

17 December 2018

Commenting on the decision by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to reclassify some student loan payments as current government spending, the UCU said the move had to encourage a wider debate about how to fund higher education.

The union said the ONS's decision exposed major flaws in the current system and that the review of education funding by Philip Augar must now propose a radical new approach to funding universities, which ensures business finally starts to pay its fair share.

UCU said it was imperative that any changes to higher education funding do not reduce the overall level of funding for universities or lead to fewer students being able to access higher education. The union called for the government to reverse its corporation tax cuts and ringfence that money for post-18 education.

UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: 'Successive governments' funding reforms have done nothing but raise fees and student debt. It's crucial that any future changes don't reduce university funding or lock potential students out of learning. What we need is a new approach which recognises that higher education is a public good and should be funded through taxation, including an increased contribution from business.

'For too long one of the key beneficiaries of our higher education system has contributed too little. Businesses benefit from the pool of talented graduates from universities and it is only right they start to pay their fair share. The government should reverse its cuts to corporation tax and ringfence that money to fund universities.'