Our strategy

Equality of opportunity

  1. Our access and participation regime will focus on equality of opportunity and good student outcomes, and will continue to be integrated with our regulation of quality and standards. 
  2. We will keep our approach to access and participation plans under review, including our national targets. When monitoring plans, we will increasingly focus our activity on those providers that represent most risk and will take enforcement action to ensure all providers are taking all reasonable steps to deliver the commitments in their plans.
  3. We will encourage an increased focus on higher education providers seeking opportunities to work in partnership with schools.
  4. Our regulation of quality will ensure that students from all backgrounds have the resources and support they need to succeed in and beyond higher education, and that all providers satisfy our minimum requirements for student outcomes.
  5. Beyond the requirements we place on individual providers, we will continue to support the sector to make progress on access and participation, using funding, information and evidence. Where evidence about ‘what works’ to improve access and participation is lacking, we will seek to generate and disseminate new evidence and make our existing resources more accessible to a wider audience, helping providers to tailor support for particular groups of students.
  1. We will ensure that our approach to the registration of new providers facilitates entry for those with high quality courses and innovative approaches.
  2. We will continue to encourage diversity of provision through our funding streams.
  3. We will consider using small-scale, regulatory ‘sandboxes’ for providers wishing to experiment in innovative and flexible approaches in a way that continues to satisfy our requirements.
  4. During the latter half of the strategic period, we will seek to proactively increase the diversity of provision available to students. We will explore using information to stimulate demand and competition, and funding to stimulate supply.
  5. We will explore ways to facilitate new entry to the sector through our approach to registration and degree awarding powers, including looking at the resources available to prospective providers and considering whether new categories of registration would be helpful. We will also consider whether we should intervene in the validation system to increase the availability of high quality courses across England.
  6. We will work with government to ensure our regulatory approach is appropriate in the context of lifelong loan entitlement.*

*The ‘lifelong loan entitlement’ (LLE) is a government policy proposal to provide individuals with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of four years’ worth of post-18 education to use over their lifetime.

  1. We will take action to address and prevent harassment and sexual misconduct. We will collect evidence on the actions that providers are taking in response to our statement of expectations on harassment and sexual misconduct, and we will carry out qualitative and quantitative research to build our evidence base on the nature and prevalence of harassment and sexual misconduct among students.
  2. Based on the evidence gathered and other evidence available to us, we will develop an approach that is most likely to drive the change needed in this area. We expect this to focus on the use of our convening powers, influence, and the publication of case studies and other information to demonstrate how providers could effectively respond to complex cases of harassment and sexual misconduct.
  3. We expect to use our investigatory and enforcement powers to underpin our approach where this is necessary and will re-examine the enforcement approaches that may be appropriate as we respond to individual cases.
  4. In pursuing this goal, we will place particular emphasis on our use of student engagement to make sure we are taking the most effective course of action.
  1. We will evaluate the progress of interventions on student mental health, focusing on supporting providers to innovate, improve and tailor their practice. We will consider whether providers are responding effectively and addressing student mental health as a strategic priority.
  2. We will explore opportunities to work with partner organisations in the higher education and mental health sectors and in government, to enable providers to support the good mental health and wellbeing of their students.
Published 23 March 2022

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