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Universities: Student Wastage

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4409, tabled on 24 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide more support for students at risk of dropping out of university.

Answered on

7 December 2021

On Wednesday 24 November we issued guidance to the Office for Students (OfS), asking them to refresh the access and participation regime to drive up standards in education and focus in on genuine social mobility by making getting on at university as important as getting in.

We have tasked the OfS with rewriting national targets for access and participation and renegotiating providers’ access and participation plans in line with these new targets.

We want to see the higher education sector stepping up and taking a greater role, not only in improving the access rates for disadvantaged young people, but in ensuring those successes also result in improvements in attainment and outcomes. The OfS should remove any incentives in the current system for providers to recruit disadvantaged students onto courses where too many students drop out or that do not offer good graduate outcomes.

Through the refocusing of the access and participation regime, we expect universities to provide more support to disadvantaged students by:

  • tackling dropout rates and providing support through university to graduation and into high skilled and high paid jobs
  • working more with schools and colleges to raise standards in schools so students get better qualifications and have more options and can choose the path that is right for them
  • offering more courses that are linked to skills and flexible learning such as degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications and part time courses.

It is essential that the OfS’ work on access and participation focuses on delivering real social mobility by ensuring students can make the right choices and can access and succeed on high quality courses which are valued by employers and lead to good graduate employment.

This refresh is a central part of our levelling up agenda and national focus on improving the skills gap in disadvantaged areas.