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Higher Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 93868, tabled on 15 December 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the levels of demand for modular provision within higher education.

Answered on

7 January 2022

Many learners need to access courses in a more flexible way, to fit study around work, family and personal commitments, and to retrain as both their circumstances and the economy change. There is research available which makes a case for modular provision. A joint Universities UK (UUK)-CBI study using research with learners, as well as reviewing the flexible learning opportunities offered by higher education (HE) providers, concluded that there was a strong case for modular or credit based system for undergraduate provision in the longer-term.

The introduction of a Lifelong Loan Entitlement was also a key recommendation from the ‘Post-18 Review of Education and Funding: Independent Panel’ report (the Augar report) and endorsed in a House of Lords report which recommended ‘funding for modules or credit where a full degree is not required’, stating that proposals ‘should facilitate transfer between different institutions’.

As such, the government sees the case for change, and has set out our ambition to make progress through the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

As part of the pathway to the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, the Higher Education Short Course trial will test part-time, short course provision at levels 4-6, delivered flexibly to offer the learner choice around how they choose to study. We will use the trial to test learner and provider demand and behaviours as we learn lessons from this ahead of the full rollout of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

A survey by UUK found around 24% of the population had considered part-time HE in the last 10 years but had not enrolled. The current system is not meeting these needs and, as a result, fewer entrants at levels 4 and 5 fund their tuition fees with student loans than entrants at level 6.