Education in England is ‘moving in the wrong direction’, say campaigners

Tuitions fees in England are higher than in all OECD countries and economies except the United States.

Campaigners have warned that the education system is “moving in the wrong direction” following an OECD report which warned that British students were leaving university with some of the highest loans.

The Education at a Glance 2019 report looks at education in OECD countries and partner countries and provides data on the structure, finances and performance of education systems.

According to the report, tuitions fees in England are higher than in all OECD countries and economies except the United States. 

“The findings of the OECD’s latest Education at a Glance provide another worrying reminder that education in England is moving in the wrong direction and is an outlier compared with other OECD countries. We need a strong education system to build firm foundations for our economic growth,” explained Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union.

Dr Bousted explained that despite student loans being wiped off after 30 years, the looming burden of debt can put many young people off of going into higher education.

“The study shows that England has among the highest university tuition fees across the OECD and that our students are graduating with enormous debt burdens – approaching £50,000 on average per student. 

“This puts further and higher education out of the reach of many young people and means the UK will struggle to fulfil its commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which it has signed up alongside other world leaders. Goal 4 commits it to ensure ‘inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” she said. 

As well as a high burden of debt, the report warned that students who attend universities in the UK were not being equipped with the knowledge to navigate life after education. 

“It is more important than ever that young people learn the knowledge and skills needed to navigate our unpredictable and changing world,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“We must expand opportunities and build stronger bridges with future skills needs so that every student can find their place in society and achieve their full potential.”

Meka Beresford is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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