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Bishop for higher education suggests ‘public-service covenant’ to support vocational students

08 June 2018

DIOCESE OF WINCHESTER

The lead bishop for further and higher education, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin

The lead bishop for further and higher education, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin

A PUBLIC-SERVICE covenant between the Government and students which subsidises or even pays off tuition fees may be the solution to “overwhelming” levels of student debt which are putting off potential caring professionals, the Church of England’s lead bishop for further and higher education, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, has suggested.

In an interview with the Church Times this week, Bishop Dakin said that student debt was an “overwhelming concern” for the Cathedrals Group — a group of 16 universities and colleges with church foundations — because most of its students were preparing for public service.

“A solution might be a public-service covenant, in which the Government provided substantial bursaries or greatly reduced fees for anyone training to be a teacher, nurse, youth worker, social worker, or something similar,” he said. “Alternatively, the Government might wipe out the student debt of anyone entering these professions after their first years in service.”

Church universities were especially vulnerable because they concentrated on vocational courses, which did not promise high salaries, Bishop Dakin explained.

“The church universities’ focus on courses associated with public service is now disadvantaging the institutions themselves: new quality measures so far proposed are equating teaching excellence with the salary levels that their graduates can expect to attain.”

The idea of a covenant could be included in documents setting out the C of E vision for higher and further education, he said. They are due to be published later this year.

Read the full interview here.

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