From education to employment

Response to ‘manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation’

‘I am grateful for this wealth of expert advice, especially the contributions from students. I look forward to discussing these ideas with many of the authors today, and in the coming year as I develop the way that the OfS regulates access and participation.

‘I am pleased to see that many of the issues given priority are ones that I am already addressing in my guidance to universities and colleges.

‘For example, despite the progress made in access and participation for some groups, there are still wide gaps for mature students, for white males from the lowest income groups, and at the universities with the highest admissions requirements. And when students do enter higher education, certain groups also face real barriers to succeeding during and after their studies, particularly Black and Asian students and those with disabilities. 

‘I have made it clear to universities and colleges that I expect them to address these issues in their access and participation plans, which the OfS must approve if they wish to charge higher tuition fees. [note 4]

‘As the “manifesto” identifies, students need robust advice from trusted sources, and higher education providers have a key role to play in working collaboratively to achieve this.

‘Students need a genuine choice of routes into higher education at different points of life, including high quality technical routes, such as degree apprenticeships, that will work for students from all backgrounds.

‘Students need a more transparent and sophisticated admissions system that tackles the gap between potential and opportunity at the point of entry.

‘And students need universities and employers to face up to the reasons for differential outcomes within and beyond higher education, and make changes that mean everyone has a fair chance. 

‘To succeed across all of these areas, the higher education sector will also need more robust and common data, indicators and evidence of “what works”, and a longer term approach to evaluation and target-setting.

‘We will be focusing on all of these issues during the first year of the Office for Students. In doing so, we want to establish the basis for a radical increase in ambition next year, when we will agree new targets for universities and colleges to reduce the gaps in access, success and progression.’


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