The CSP has given a cautious welcome to several of the recommendations of the Augar Review on post-18 education and funding in England, published on 30 May.
It is not yet known whether recommendations will be adopted by the government.
The report recommends
- the cap on student tuition fees is lowered from the current £9,250 to £7,500 per year from 2021/22, with the funding gap between the two amounts filled by an increase to the publicly-funded teaching grant that HEIs receive for higher-cost subjects
- reintroducing maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged students, and has a strong focus on widening participation and addressing current funding inequalities between further and higher education
- individuals being able to access a lifelong learning loan to study at levels 4-6 (degree level) on a flexible basis. This could provide new development opportunities for physiotherapy support workers
Sally Gosling, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said: 'The recommendation that higher-cost subjects need to receive a bigger teaching grant, in the context of reduced student fees, is reassuring.'
It was 'crucial' that universities continue to receive funding that reflects the real cost of delivering physiotherapy education, while reducing the amount charged to students.
The CSP, Ms Gosling explained, had input to a previous costing study, which secured a teaching grant for programmes.
'We will be keen to engage in a fresh review of costs to ensure realistic levels of funding continue. This is essential for maintaining and growing physiotherapy workforce supply, when the profession’s value and impact in meeting population and patient needs is being so strongly recognised, and for ensuring that the high quality of physiotherapy education is not compromised.'
Less positively, said Ms Gosling, the report includes recommendations on apprenticeships that could 'jeopardise opportunities for physiotherapy workforce development, just as these are getting underway'.
One recommendation, if implemented, would halt employers’ ability to invest in apprenticeships to develop their workforce at Master’s degree level, including as a supported route into first-contact physiotherapy and other advanced practice roles.
The CSP is working through the report’s full recommendations. It will seek member engagement as the next steps and priority areas for action become clearer.
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