The government's proposed higher education reforms should be implemented as a package and not in a piecemeal way, a Commons panel has recommended.
The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has agreed, in principle, with the concept of graduates contributing to the expenses of their education but said that the Government's communications strategy on tuition fees could have been more effectively realised.
While suggesting that the National Scholarship Programme needs to be revamped to make available public money to fund living costs of students, the Committee said: "Focusing financial support on providing money for living costs to students while they are studying would be a more effective means of support than fee-waivers and would be more consistent with the message that students should not be dissuaded from applying to university because of the cost."
The panel has also urged the government to make sure that its higher-education reforms delivery plan is flexible enough to accommodate a later implementation.
As the new fee regime is expected to be in place at the start of the next academic year, the MPs have expressed concern over the fate of the ongoing consultation on a variety of aspects. "We are concerned to ensure that these consultations will deliver the necessary coherent package of reforms to that timetable. It is vital that a new fee regime does not start without key aspects of the wider reform package in place," the Committee said.
The key aspects of the reforms that are currently out for consultation include early repayment penalties for loans, the future of student number controls, loans for students studying at alternative providers, "off quota" students and a new regulatory framework for new and alternative providers.
Panel chair Adrian Bailey said: "The government's reforms of Higher Education are wide-ranging and comprehensive. While we welcome the aim to put students at the heart of the system, that ambition will only be realised if the government delivers the reforms on time and as a package."