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BIS: reforms put university funding on 'sustainable footing'

The Government recognises the importance of a highly skilled workforce and that is why despite the tough economic climate we are continuing to invest in improving skills and knowledge.

More people than ever before will benefit from higher education in 2012.Our reforms put university funding on to a sustainable footing. We estimate that the cash going to universities could rise to £11 billion by 2014-15, which is an increase of 10%.

It's important that employers and the higher education sector work together to identify the skills graduates need for the future and work together to address these.

– UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Personal financial benefits from higher education

A study conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research, also found that there are still great personal benefits from gaining higher level qualifications.

A graduate can expect to earn £98,000 more over a lifetime compared to someone with two or more A-levels - known as a "graduate premium".

After tuition fees treble to a maximum of £9,000 this autumn, this premium will fall slightly, although a graduate will still earn between £79,500 and £86,000 more over a working lifetime, depending on the level of fees they paid.

We have seen that the attainment of higher-level qualifications provides a significant boost to the UK economy, with the Exchequer gaining an additional £180,000 from a graduate over their working lifetime compared to an individual with A-levels.

– The Institute for Public Policy Research study

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Cash benefits of education revealed

University graduates
University graduates Credit: PA

Educating young people to A-level and degree standard boosts the UK's coffers by tens of thousands of pounds per student, new research shows. But the economy could be damaged if the UK fails to produce more highly skilled workers, says a report commissioned by the University and College Union.

The study shows that it costs the state around £5,000 to put a pupil through a two-year A-level course and almost £19,000 to send the average student to university.

It adds that the UK economy benefits "substantially" from individuals gaining these higher qualifications.

Overall, the Government will get an extra £180,000 back from a graduate over a working lifetime, compared to someone with A-levels.

And the return to the wider economy of a student gaining an A-level is around £47,000, the report says.

Education ministers have 'ignored advice' about A-levels

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of million+, a university think tank, said: "A-level courses and qualifications must be fit for purpose for employers as well as all universities.

"This is a much more complex task than simply getting a few academics together, especially when you bear in mind the huge range of subjects and courses.

"At a meeting with representatives from across higher education, ministers were advised very clearly that universities did not consider that the A-level system was 'broken'.

She added that education ministers "appear to have ignored this advice".

Headmaster warns 'unwise to give universities total control' of A-levels

Peter B Hamilton, headmaster of the private Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School and chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference academic policy committee, said: "A-levels are and will remain the most important examination for young people completing their pre-university education.

"Michael Gove is right to want university input into the much-needed review of A-levels but it would be most unwise to give universities total control.

"Those who teach 16 and 17-year-olds know best what they need, both to expand their knowledge base and develop their study skills, so input from successful sixth-form teachers will be equally important in getting an examination system fit for the 21st century."

NUT: Disappointing Gove didn't have A-levels discussion with profession

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "a little disappointing" Mr Gove had written to Ofqual "without having had this discussion with the profession".

She said: "There is a lot to commend A-levels, but there is no harm done in having a look at them again.

"What we don't want is to have proposals put to us on a take it or leave it basis."

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Schooling inequality a 'national scandal'

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg Credit: PA

It is a "national scandal" that poorer pupils are lagging up to a year behind their richer classmates in their schooling, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg is expected to warn later.

In a speech to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference in Manchester, Mr Twigg will say: "In other words, being a poor pupil in a poor classroom is the equivalent of being left a year behind. This is a national scandal.

"I know there are inequalities in our health system, but if poorer patients were left to linger on waiting lists for an extra year there would be a huge outcry."

What do academics want to see in A-levels?

A study by Cambridge Assessment found that more than half of lecturers think that undergraduates are unprepared for degree-level study.

The findings show that academics want A-levels to include more advanced content for bright students, cover subjects in more depth and encourage critical thinking, independent study, experimentation and more extensive reading.

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