Birkbeck’s Master gives evidence to Lords Committee

Professor David Latchman appeared before Economic Affairs Committee to discuss the finances of the HE Sector

Master of Birkbeck Professor David Latchman was among the leading figures who gave evidence to a Parliamentary committee examining the funding of the Higher Education sector.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry into the economics of higher education, further education and vocational training though a series of sessions with experts in the area.

Professor Latchman appeared on Tuesday 14 November, alongside Professor Mike Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, and Peter Horrocks, the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University.

Members of the committee, chaired by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, are investigating how post-school education is funded and whether it focuses on the skills required for the British economy.

Professor Latchman told the Committee that part-time numbers had continued to fall since the 2012 fee changes, compounded by adjustments to ELQ (Equivalent or Lower Qualifications) regulations. He added that as Birkbeck students study in the evening they have the additional challenges of working and studying.

Additionally, Professor Latchman argued the student loans system needs to be renamed as they use of 'loan' and 'debt' is off-putting, particularly to older students which makes a complex system even harder to understand.

Committee chairman Lord Forsyth praised the quality of Birkbeck's written submission.

Professor Latchman said afterwards: "It was a great opportunity to inform the committee's work by giving evidence and it is clear that their Lordships understand the problems facing the funding and support of part-time students. I hope that the Committee's findings are appropriately considered by Government in any higher education review."

The session was streamed live and can be viewed on catch-up (with the session beginning at 16.49).

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