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Higher Education funding policy: who wins and who loses?

In the run up to the next general election, Higher Education (HE) Funding policies will be one of the key issues. This commentary analyses the impact of the three parties' HE funding policies on students, graduates, universities and taxpayers.

The core aim of each of the parties' proposals is to augment the coffers of universities. This is to be achieved through systems of funding that contain provisions for student support, for contributions after graduation, as well as for funding from general taxation. The design of the three parties' proposed systems are all quite distinct in each of these dimensions, and an analysis of the differential implications of the proposals for students, graduates, taxpayers and universities, is the subject of the report.

One can easily cherry pick example graduates to display the merits, or otherwise, of particular policies. However, the impacts of the proposed policies on graduates depend on where (s)he ends up in the graduate earnings distribution. For this reason, it is important to consider the wider picture rather than merely confining analysis to example graduates. To this end, the report analyses the implications of the proposals right across the entire distribution of potential earnings for graduates.

The research for this analysis has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

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Press release
This press release highlights the key findings of a report published by the IFS and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, that compares the university funding policies of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.