Want to save the economy? Start by saving part-time learning

Oct 29, 2015 by

The government wants to cut welfare and increase wages. Fine, says a new report, but boosting skills is the way to do it

On Monday, the Treasury lost its bare-knuckle fight with the House of Lords over its plan to cut working tax credits. The government says it must slash the welfare budget rapidly. Their lordships disagree, claiming that austerity should not punish people “for doing what is right”.

But the motion the government lost has only delayed the cuts for three years, rather than blocking them entirely. In the intervening period, both the proponents and the opponents of reducing tax credits need to form a strategy to help people raise their income.

There is one obvious solution: to help people improve their skills through part-time study in order to get better-paid jobs.

It is commonly claimed that there are more students now than ever before. The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto boasted: “This year, for the first time, over half a million people have been admitted to our universities.” But the total number of students has actually been falling, not rising, because the number of part-time enrolments has (roughly) halved over five years. In 2008-09, there were about 345,000 new part-time students – in 2013-14, there were only 175,000.

Today’s new publication from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), entitled It’s the Finance, Stupid!, brings experts together to look at ways of reversing the decline.

Source: Want to save the economy? Start by saving part-time learning | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

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