Higher education reform could have profound implications for expanding access to higher education – FE News

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NEON’s response to government consultations on higher education policy, LLE and PQA announcement:

The government’s draft policy announcements released yesterday may well have profound implications for expanding access to higher education (HE).

A Minimum Entry Requirement (MER) for students entering higher education has the potential to deter students from considering higher education as an option as well as limit the flexibility of higher education providers to recognize the potential among those from broader access backgrounds.

Combined with the extension of student loan repayment terms to 40 years, REM risks sending the message to prospective students and their families from lower socio-economic groups, particularly those living in areas with the greatest economic and social challenges, that higher education is not made for them. In doing so, it also threatens the progress of the race-to-the-top agenda.

The new potential national scholarship program and the Right to life loan (LLE) both in principle offer welcome new funding opportunities for students wishing to progress in and through higher education.

However, they will need to be developed with input from those working with learners who are underrepresented in HE to ensure they maximize their impact as LLE does not provide funding, the right to learn is likely to have a limited impact.

It is disappointing that the consultation summary and government response on post-qualification admissions was also released yesterday and not on a separate date. While the Government’s position on the PQA is now clear, the consultation exercise and other work carried out by sector bodies reviewing the admissions system has identified some crucial areas where the admissions system could be improved for students. from broader access backgrounds and hopefully some of these ideas in the context of the current system can be advanced.

We will now work with our members to respond to the relevant consultations announced yesterday and will also seek to support the Government and the Student Union in implementing the reforms so that they provide opportunities for people from underrepresented backgrounds to advance and to succeed in higher education.

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