In July 1997 the Government announced its interim response to the report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education chaired by Sir Ron (now Lord) Dearing, which was set up with all party support by the outgoing Government.
We repeat here the appreciation and thanks to the Committee and all those who participated in what was a seminal report providing us with the basis for moving forward into a new era of funding and development for higher education and its relationship with lifelong learning as a whole.
In order to avoid uncertainty, unproductive speculation, and potential dislocation of necessary future funding, the Government responded immediately to the Committee’s recommendations about the shared responsibility of the student and the state for the funding of higher education and for the freeing of resources for further investment, access and expansion.
By responding in this way, it has been possible to bring forward the Teaching and Higher Education Bill in this session of Parliament and therefore to ensure that new arrangements can be brought into place from this Autumn and additional resources provided for 1998-99, a year earlier than would otherwise have been the case. We are grateful to everyone who has made this possible and who has co-operated in ensuring that the new arrangements can be in place on time.
In today’s publication we respond as promised to other aspects of the Dearing Report not dealt with in the statement to the House in July or in subsequent clarifications relating to the new structure of funding and student maintenance.
We do so in the context of our Green Paper on Lifelong Learning which is being published today in England1. This sets out our vision of the future development of the knowledge based economy and investment in human capital which will place the United Kingdom at the cutting edge of world economic change in the new Millennium. The modernisation and updating of our higher and further education systems is an essential prerequisite in ensuring that we can meet that challenge, make that investment and contribute to both economic prosperity and social cohesion.
We are embarking on a new era in which old divides are broken down and access is opened up to those who previously had no expectation of returning to learn.
Already over half of those in higher education are mature students and over a third are part-timers.
Our proposals for greater equity, access and accountability build on the work of the Dearing Committee and their acceptance of the critical part higher and further education will play in the future success of our country.
We are responding separately to the report of Sir Ron Garrick, who chaired the Scottish Committee, and to the report of Helena Kennedy, Learning Works.
|David Blunkett||Donald Dewar|
|Secretary of State for Education and Employment||Secretary of State for Scotland|
|Marjorie Mowlam||Ron Davies|
|Secretary of State for Northern Ireland||Secretary of State for Wales|
25 February 1998
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