We want the Office for Students to drive transformational change in equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups in English higher education.
We plan to continue putting pressure on higher education providers to reduce the gaps in access, success and progression in a number of ways. Where necessary, we also want to fund and support activities related to access and participation.
We would like to better support universities and colleges to be more ambitious and change outcomes. We believe that one way of doing this is by making sure our activities are better aligned and more joined up.
Specifically, we are reviewing access and participation plans, student premium funding, National Collaborative Outreach Programme funding, and the requirements for higher education providers to publish data about underrepresentation.
We are also looking at broader areas of our work, such as supporting partnerships between schools, further and higher education, and alignment with the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).
What we're aiming to achieve
Our new approach will enable us to:
- significantly reduce the gaps in access, success and progression in the next five years, speeding up the pace of change
- ensure our access and participation regulation and funding drives transformational change by being outcome-based, risk-based, underpinned by evidence and joined up with other OfS regulatory activities.
What we've done so far
We have talked with, and listened to, students, higher education providers and other experts through workshops, meetings, discussions with the OfS student panel and a survey.
Consultation on regulating access and participation in English higher education
We have carried out a consultation exercise, covering access and participation plans and the transparency information condition, where we asked for the views of students, staff, academics, leaders at higher education providers, and others with an interest in equality of opportunity.
To support participants to understand and respond to the consultation, we hosted consultation events throughout September.
What will happen next?
We’ll publish the outcomes of the consultation, and details of our new approach, in early 2019, so that it’s in place when we publish our next guidance for higher education providers about how to prepare access and participation plans.