Influence and impact
We are experiencing a period of considerable change and uncertainty across higher education. Whilst university remains an extremely popular destination for college and sixth form leavers, as well as those looking to enhance their skill set, a wider debate has emerged about the role, value and cost of higher education for society.
A changing regulatory environment, new political priorities, and the high level of need experienced by a growing number of students, especially since the pandemic, are all creating an ever more complex environment in which universities operate.
Cathedrals Group universities are working together to advocate for a considered, compassionate, and collaborative approach to addressing many of the challenges we face. In particular, we are highlighting the increasing importance of universities in educating for the 'whole person' - recognising the diverse needs, motivations, and aspirations that bring people to higher education, and the value that universities add in preparing people not just for work, but for life. We particularly champion the needs and experiences of those people who might not benefit from higher education, without the choice and support that universities such as ours can offer.
We advocate for this more holistic viewpoint in our work within the higher education sector, and in our conversations with those who have a role in shaping it. For example, we regularly respond jointly to consultations relevant to our work, we meet together with senior politicians and sector leaders, and we pursue research opportunities and projects that align with our social justice ethos.
Our work together
At a time of uncertainty and changing policy, Cathedrals Group universites are working together to speak with a strong voice on issues that matter.
These include the impact upon our students of the rise in the cost of living, the lack of maintenance grants and the decline in the real value of maintenance loans. The rise in the cost of living is also affecting universities at a time when the value of tuition fees has fallen by a third since 2012. This is why we believe that universities need an immediate increase in funding for teaching and a higher education funding system which is sustainable in the long-term.
In England the regulatory regime of the Office of Students (OfS) has led to universities diverting significant resources to meet OfS requirements – resources which would be better deployed in supporting students. In addition, Cathedrals Group Universities have strongly opposed the OfS using graduate salaries to assess the quality and value of higher education in individual institutions.
We are united in our belief that it is important to take a broad view of what makes a university and its students successful – and it is much more than just what a graduate earns. You can read our response to a House of Lords Committee Report on the Office of Students and the need for a sustainable system of higher education funding, at the link below.