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Education in the media: 3 July 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Higher Education, School spending

Today’s news review looks at the debate around tuition fees, and lateness fines.

Tuition fees debate

Today, 3 July, The Times reports on speculation that the government will not scrap tuition fees. It follows comments by Damian Green, the First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, that Britain should have a "national debate" about university tuition fees. It reports that Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, staunchly defended tuition fees on Twitter, while Michael Gove also defended them on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday.  The story was also covered by The Daily Mail, TES and The Guardian among others.

The reforms we are making to the higher education sector through the Higher Education and Research Act will help to make sure students receive value for money from their investment in higher education.  It will introduce new legislation to give more young people the opportunity to access high quality university education, as well as giving students more information about teaching standards through the Teaching Excellence Framework and job prospects through our Longitudinal Education Outcomes data so they can make better, more informed decisions about what and where to study.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Everyone, no matter what their background, deserves a world-class education so they can go as far as their talents will take them and for many people that involves going to university.


Our student finance system removes upfront financial barriers for anyone hoping to study and students only pay back what they can afford based on their income. There are now record numbers of young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, benefitting from higher education.

Further information:

  • Borrowers are protected – they only pay back what they can afford based on their income, with outstanding debt written off after 30 years.
  • The student finance system introduced in 2012 has been recognised as sustainable by the OECD. We have made further changes to the student loan system since then to make it even more so.
  • Andreas Schleicher of the OECD said in September 2016 that “the UK has been able to meet rising demand for tertiary education with more resources…by finding effective ways to share the costs and benefits”.
  • Loan payments are affordable and based on income, not the amount borrowed, therefore no borrower will see their repayments rise as a result of an increase in rates.
  • Furthermore we increased the up-front living costs support available to eligible full-time students from the lowest income backgrounds by 10.3% in 2016/17 with a further 2.8% increase in 2017/18. We have made more loan products available to a wider group of students, for example through the introduction of postgraduate loans.

Lateness fines

On Sunday, 2 July, the Sunday Times ran a front page story about parents facing fines of up to £60 for bringing their child to school late. It included a comment from former teacher Tom Bennett, who did a review of behaviour for the government saying other sanctions such as cleaning could be used. The story was also covered in The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and Sky News among others.

It is a matter for schools to decide when and what to issue fines for. However, they can only issue them in accordance with a code of conduct which is set out by their local authority. Nothing has changed in our policy on lateness or absence.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Pupils being punctual to lessons not only benefits their learning but also helps them develop core skills which will stand them in good stead for future employment.


It is right that schools monitor patterns of lateness and address it where it becomes a concern. It is a matter for individual schools to decide when to close their register and take action as needed, provided it is in line with the local authority’s code of conduct.

To read more about the Higher Education and Research Bill, including recent announcements and factsheets, please see here.


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