Augar loan threshold lacks imagination says Cambridge academic

A Cambridge academic has criticised Government plans to stop pupils without a Grade 4 GCSE pass in maths and English from securing student loans, arguing that universities need to be “more imaginative” when assessing students’ potential.

Michael Hrebeniak, director of studies in English at Magdalene College, Cambridge University, said that the Government’s Augar review of higher education funding in England, published on Thursday, is “proscribed by expressly financial prerogatives” and that “its mental universe is money”.

“Now, students certainly need to have some way of proving that they can engage with complex ideas and materials, but surely we can be more imaginative than merely verifying intelligence and potential against the data on a certificate,” he told the PA news agency.

Dr Hrebeniak is the founder of the New School of the Anthropocene (NSOTA) at the October Gallery in Bloomsbury, London, a year-long programme described as a “radical and affordable experiment” in higher education.

We have to move beyond standardising human beings. Education is not a factory and nor is it a business

Michael Hrebeniak

The school aims “to free students from the tyranny of debt by keeping tuition fees as low as possible”.

It is named after the geological era where human impact on the planet takes effect, and students will research and study a wide range of disciplines, encompassing film-making, philosophy, dance and hands-on conservation work such as water…


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