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Education in the media: 8 September 2017

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Today’s news review covers new measures announced in a speech by Universities Minister Jo Johnson to make universities more accountable, including when deciding how much to pay senior staff. It also outlines the latest coverage on training provider Learndirect.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson on university accountability

Yesterday, Thursday 7 September, Universities Minister Jo Johnson delivered a speech at Universities UK annual conference, setting out the government’s plans to tackle vice chancellor pay.

His comments were widely reported in the media, including the Daily Telegraph, BBC News and The Guardian.

The Minister outlined further details about the new regulator – the Office for Students (OfS) – which will oversee the sector.

The OfS will ensure that universities justify vice chancellor pay over £150,000.  If a university fails to do so, the OfS can use its powers to address this, including imposing fines.

To increase transparency, universities will also be required to publish details of all senior staff earning over £100,000 per year.

The ultimate aim is to ensure universities offer value for money both for fee-paying students and for the taxpayer.

We will launch a public consultation in the autumn seeking views on the OfS regulatory framework.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said

The debate over student finance has, rightly, increased public scrutiny of how universities spend the money they receive from fees.

When students and taxpayers invest so heavily in our higher education system, excessive Vice Chancellor salaries send a powerful signal to the outside world.

Greater restraint is required and, by independently volunteering big pay cuts themselves, Sir Michael Barber and Nicola Dandridge have shown true leadership.

Exceptional pay can only be justified by exceptional performance, which is why I will ask the new Office for Students to take action to ensure value for money and transparency for students and the taxpayer.


Yesterday, Thursday 7 September, there was coverage in the Financial Times about adult training and apprenticeships provider Learndirect.

The piece refers to Learndirect receiving a £45 million allocation from the 2017 / 18 adult education budget, despite its recent Grade 4 Ofsted report.

Along with other providers, Learndriect will be receiving a run-down provision, which will be calculated following a review.

Our priority is minimising disruption for those apprentices who are still receiving training.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Following the publication of Ofsted's report ‎we have worked closely with Learndirect and employers to put safeguards in place and ensure no learners lose out.

All existing contracts for service providers who were unsuccessful in the procurement or did not bid are being treated consistently. They were all notified in July 2017 that the basis on which the funding for the run-down provision would be calculated would be subject to review.


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