BURNLEY MP Julie Cooper has described a landmark review into tuition fees as a “dogs breakfast” saying it is just “tinkering” at the edges.

Saiqa Chaudhari and Bill Jacobs report.

THE long-awaited government commissioned Augar review into Post-18 Education and Funding was published this week.

The key recommendations by an independent panel led by Philip Augar are:

-Reducing university fees from £9,250 a year to £7,500

-Reducing the amount graduates can earn before before they have to start repaying from £25,725 a year to £23,000

-Instead of any unpaid loans being cancelled 30-years after graduation, deductions would continue for 40 years.

-Reintroducing maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, of at least £3,000 a year.

But says Labour MP Ms Cooper the review doesn’t go far enough and fails to tackle the issue ­— but she did welcome moves to reversing cuts to further education and reinstatement of maintenance grants.

The former governor of Burnley College said: “This is a dog's breakfast of a report. It is just tinkering at the edges of the tuition fee question. I support the abolition of tuition fees altogether.

“While it may seem like step in the right direction, it does not address the central question of the cost which puts many young people and families in East Lancashire off university education.

“We need the scrapping of tuition fees and return of maintenance grants to encourage Burnley and Padiham’s your people to go to university.”

The review also makes a number of recommendations relating to further education. It says the reduction in the core funding rate for 18 year-olds should be reversed, and that the Government should provide FE colleges with a dedicated capital investment of at least £1 billion over the next Spending Review period.

Mrs Cooper added: “The recommendations on improving the funding for Further Education and improving the grants and loans financing for vocational courses are welcome.

"This has been cut by 40 per cent since 2010 and needs to be restored.

“This would help Burnley College to provide the vocational education that many of your people want and need.

“At the moment it cannot provide these courses or the sort of lifelong learning that people seeking to retrain after redundancy or company restructuring need.

“There are people genuinely wanting to do this who cannot afford it or find the courses to do so.”

University bosses said they were still analysing the report.

A spokesman for University of Central Lancashire said: “ There is a great deal to digest from the Augar report and we are currently reviewing its recommendations and possible implications for UCLan.

“We are conscious that the report has been undertaken by an independent panel and it will be for the Government to decide whether to implement any of the recommendations.

“Whilst we monitor the situation and wait to understand Government’s next steps, UCLan continues in its mission to create an excellent student experience enabling people, irrespective of their backgrounds, to fulfil their potential and meet their life and career goals.”

Graduates will have to repay their student loans over 40 years under plans for university funding reforms and that the interest rate on loans should be reduced to the level of inflation.

Prime Minister Theresa May has welcomed a number of the recommendations.

She said: “I was not surprised to see the panel argue for the reintroduction of means-tested maintenance grants both for university students and those studying for higher technical qualifications.

“Such a move would ensure students are supported whichever route they choose, and save those from the poorest backgrounds over £9,000."

However, Mrs May noted that decisions about whether and how to implement the recommendations will fall to the next Government, and not her.

She said: “It will be up to the Government to decide, at the upcoming Spending Review, whether to follow thisrecommendation.

“But my view is very clear: removing maintenance grants from the least well-off students has not worked, and I believe it is time to bring them back.”

Ribble Valley Conservative MP Nigel Evans said: “These recommendations sound good to me. It looks like they will help able young people from less wealthy backgrounds go to university without fear of the debt rap deterring them.

"The move towards high-value subjects should ensure they are able to move on to better paid jobs.

"The extra funding and loan finance for Further Education is also good news as it will increase the choice and variety of skills and training on offer to East Lancashire’s young people.

"The Further Education sector has suffered from funding cuts in recent years and it is right that this financial shortfall should be reversed."

Dr Augar, chairman of the panel, said: "Our work revealed that post-18 education in England is a story of both care and neglect, depending on whether students are amongst the 50 per cent of young people who participate in higher education or the rest."