The best possible version of Westminster and devolved governments’ post-compulsory education policy is the expansion of higher education opportunity. In England, the lifelong loan entitlement, a boost for higher technical education and apprenticeships, and new opportunities for digitally enhanced and flexible learning appear to offer the prospect of a greater diversity of options and pathways post-18.
In Wales, the new tertiary education legislation promises a more joined-up post-18 sector . And Scotland will argue it’s always led the way on articulation between FE and HE but as last year’s review of tertiary education and research concluded, there’s space for a longer term vision for colleges and universities.
But the reality is that public funding is constrained across the UK, that policymakers struggle to join up thinking and action between siloed sectors, and that when it comes to education opportunity, culture eats policy for breakfast. And with the Westminster government redefining social mobility, and mooting student number controls and minimum eligibility requirements for degree-level study, there’s some scepticism about whether there is really a sustained commitment to access.
At this in-person event we’ll assess the current access and participation landscape and consider what will need to change in terms of outreach, information, advice, and guidance, partnerships and pathways between providers, and on-course student support to sustain and grow education opportunity in the years ahead. We’ll bring together policymakers and practitioners to work through the challenges, and identify the things that will make the most difference to future students’ ability to get in and get on. And we’ll round it all off with a party where you can digest what you’ve heard with like-minded colleagues.