Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“No credible policy for ‘levelling up’ would neglect the post-16 sector. But ‘neglect’ is an exact description of the sector’s experience over the last decade – and of its future, if current policies are maintained. 

“Our post-16 system is fragmented and under-funded. Pay and conditions differ from institution to institution. What the system offers students varies wildly from place to place. It is a breeding ground for inequality.  

“It has taken a large-scale campaign, Protect Student Choice, to get the Government to step back from its disastrous plan to cut BTEC qualifications. Conference has voted for further campaigns to prevent government from setting up new barriers to access to higher education. The move to introduce minimum entry requirements for Higher Education funding is based on the false idea that attainment at Key Stage 4/5 is a worthwhile predictor of the benefits of higher education. It would not affect those rich enough to afford tuition fees and living costs – but it would deny access to many disadvantaged young people.  

“The Government’s own equality impact assessment accepts that the extension of the repayment period for university loans from 30 to 40 years would disproportionately affect lower earners, women and younger borrowers. It speaks volumes about the Government’s lack of seriousness about implementing its own agenda that it is setting this equality assessment aside. The student loan system is a deterrent for some and a burden for nearly all. The Union will continue to press for its abolition”. 


Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.