As the work of the Office for Fair Access begins to transfer to the new Office for Students, Les Ebdon offers his perspective on the way the new body will need to approach this vitally important issue.
A once respected national newspaper, desperate for clickbait, has resorted to some rather bizarre explanations for UK universities’ recent performance in international league tables. Andrew McRae kindly answered the call to take them to task.
The current government’s argument that student loans widen participation is misleading, argues Claire Callender, whose new research finds that debt aversion is stopping the poorest from applying to university.
Many university leaders have been uneasy about the Conservatives’ plans to enforce school sponsorship. Anne-Marie Canning argues that instead, universities should embrace the challenge to help raise attainment in schools.
A supposed lack of student resilience is often used to explain away a number of new challenges for universities. Alex Prestage argues we must move away from a deficit model to one that better recognises relative disadvantage.
A squeeze in overall demand means that there’s a new urgency behind broadening the sector’s net to include greater numbers of students from low-participation backgrounds, argues UCAS’s Mary Curnock Cook.
Outreach has become a common part of higher education providers’ access work, but it needs to be for life, and not just for university. Fraser Burt makes the case for employers’ bridging the class gap.
How are innovative alternative models of higher education being developed in the UK, and what are the barriers to further innovation? Joy Carter introduces the latest inquiry from the Higher Education Commission.
Forcing universities to open or sponsor schools runs the risk of diverting resources away from already effective widening access activities. Maddalaine Ansell lists her objections to the government’s plans for compulsory sponsorship.
The use of split metrics in the TEF could incentivise universities to do more to support disabled students’ attainment and employment prospects, and perhaps make up some of the way for recent cuts to DSA, argues Robert McLaren.
Whether bursaries actually work at widening access has long been a controversial topic. Les Ebdon writes how OFFA has introduced a new tool to help universities evaluate bursaries’ impact, which will be required for future access agreements.
Following last week’s annual report from the Social Mobility Commission, Nottingham Trent VC Edward Peck puts the case for ranking universities’ performance in social mobility and for making access targets a part of the TEF.
Sally Holt, wonk-aspirant and former aspirations coordinator at a Hartlepool school, argues that the continued practice of unpaid internships is undoing all the good work by the education sector to make life chances more fair.
The access record of universities in Scotland has been disappointing, and the Scottish Government needs to stop sidelining the problem. Lucy Hunter Blackburn argues that despite that the comparison with England holds up, despite what the politicians are saying.
Institutions are finally implementing strategies to tackle the black and ethnic minority attainment gap. Helen Barefoot from the University of Hertfordshire and Nona McDuff from Kingston University explain what they are doing.
Jacqueline Stevenson argues that secular universities are isolating their religious students, and calls on the sector to gather more data about the nature of students’ religious beliefs in order to cater to their needs.
Nick Hillman builds on his new HEPI pamphlet and argues that male access, retention and achievement is an urgent problem for the sector that should be debated and tackled – despite the critics of this discussion.
NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), Sorana Vieru argues that concerns about male underachievement are overhyped, make erroneous use of figures, and fail to account for class and non-university opportunities.