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SMF REPORT HIGHLIGHTS ‘EXCESSIVELY AGGRESSIVE COMPETITION BETWEEN UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES’

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In the not too distant past, FE and HE co-operated with each other to increase and widen participation in HE. However, a report published on 17 March by the Social Market Foundation (see here) says that this cooperation has now been replaced by aggressive competition. The report says that a combination of the lifting of caps on student numbers and higher fees, means that universities have been incentivised to maximise their income from fees and deliver courses themselves, rather than subcontract out some of the provision to FE colleges. Universities have also moved into areas traditionally considered to be the territory of FE colleges, including not only courses at Level 4 and 5, such as HNC/Ds and vocational foundation degrees, but also higher and advanced apprenticeships, and even some vocational courses at Level 3. The report concludes that colleges are the losers, saying ‘It is hard to envisage fair competition occurring between universities and FE colleges in their present form, given the scale and financial advantages universities currently enjoy, with higher per student funding, greater financial capacity to invest and more immediate rewards for expansion, while at the same time, colleges have been squeezed by significant year-on-year cuts in funding for their core activities’.

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OfS Gravity assist: propelling higher education towards a brighter future

The first national lockdown in March 2020 sparked a rush of activity in many universities and colleges to transition from in-person teaching to online delivery, often in exciting and creative ways. In June 2020, the Secretary of State for Education commissioned OfS chair Sir Michael Barber, to conduct a review of this shift toward digital teaching and learning in English higher education since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On the link you can find an executive summary, recommendations and selected case studies from the final report of the review, or download a full PDF copy.

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Effective Practice – OfS inclusive practice resources for disabled students

The proportion of students who disclose themselves as disabled or as having a mental health condition is rising. Despite this, disabled people remain underrepresented in higher education.

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Evaluation of the OfS Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme

An independent report has been published that summarises the findings from the Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme

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