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Letter: University bailouts will fail to fix a flawed system

This letter was first published in the Financial Times

It would be counterproductive if government support for struggling universities was linked too narrowly to the future earnings prospects of their graduates (Report, May 7). 

The relationships between different modes of higher-level study, future employment prospects and long-term earnings are complex and often depend on the circumstances. Policies over many years have tried to simplify and compartmentalise the pathways into work but as the mixed outcomes for graduates demonstrate, they have not worked well. A number of universities and colleges have worked hard to bridge the gaps between education and work to meet a wider range of student and employer needs. 

If the government is planning a major restructuring of higher and further education after the coronavirus crisis, it should design and build a single, joined-up system that embraces higher, further, work-based and online pathways into vocational education. 

Bailouts for failing universities will not resolve this structural challenge.  

Mike Boxall is a Senior Adviser at PA Consulting

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