A team of academics from the UCL Institute of Education have proposed that £10,000 be given to every eighteen-year-old considering higher education.
In a recently published report, A National Learning Entitlement: Moving Beyond University Tuition Fees, they recommend that the money be granted in two £5000 installments over two years and spent only on accredited university courses.
The report aims to broaden the debate on education beyond student tuition fees and professes to benefit not only those who apply to university, but also the 50% of eighteen-year-olds who do not go to university.
It is suggested that those who do not want to go to university could use the money to fund alternative further education or an apprenticeship.
Specialist further education is also considered for those who have struggled to engage with conventional teaching and learning.
The academics believe that their scheme would not only increase the skills of the workforce, but emphasise that the mental stimulation of a course can help stave off cognitive diseases such as dementia.
The report indicates that its scheme would be able to respond to changes in the job market over the last few decades, with means of supporting those who wish to have several jobs, or who have more than one job at the same time.
Labour’s call to scrap fees is criticised, with academics claiming the scheme would cost £8 billion as compared to the alleged £10 billion cost of scrapping university tuition fees.
“The proposal takes the debate beyond the current narrow focus on university education and student debt, to a broader and more inclusive system which would encourage learning at all ages by a diverse range of students, at a lower cost than the abolition of tuition fees,” the paper argues.
Funding for further education has shrunk by a quarter in five years, while the number of students over the age of 19 in further education and skills has decreased by nearly half since the 2005/06 academic year.