In July 2004, the Higher Education Act became law. As earlier chapters make clear, this is a cause for celebration. The new legislation, however, is only a way station, not an end point. This chapter draws together the threads running through the book and considers the future. The first section reflects on what has been learned from economic theory and the experience of other countries. The second section summarises our solutions in terms of policy and - equally important - implementation. The third section considers the unfinished agenda, both technical issues and, acutely relevant in many countries of the wider Europe, political aspects. The final section argues that our strategy applies to a wide range of countries.
Three lessons from economic theory, set out in the chapters in Part 1, permeate the book: the days of central planning have gone; graduates should share in the cost of their degrees; and well-designed student loans have core characteristics.
As discussed in Chapter 3, the argument against central planning is not ideological, but rooted in the economics of information. The literature on the communist economic system (see Kornai 1992, Ch. 9) makes the important distinction between extensive and intensive growth. During the period of extensive growth, surplus inputs, notably agricultural labour,