Schools and school partnerships

There have never been more opportunities for schools to partner with universities and colleges to raise attainment and improve access and participation in higher education. Our guide for teachers and school leaders provides an introduction and examples for ways that you can engage with these opportunities

Who are we?

The Office for Students is the regulator for higher education in England. We aim to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

We are not part of central government, but an independent public body that reports to Parliament through the Department for Education.

We regulate over 400 universities, colleges and other higher education providers, ensuring that each of them is meeting their obligations to students.

Find out more about us

What are we doing?

A key area of our work is on promoting equal opportunities.

We believe that future generations should have equal opportunities to access and succeed in higher education.

We work with universities and colleges to improve access and participation through establishing access and participation plans, publishing data, sharing effective practice and supporting effective evaluation.

Read more about our approach to access and participation

Why does this matter to schools?

In early 2022, we announced new priorities for our access and participation work. One of our new expectations is that universities and colleges should partner with schools and other local organisations to raise the attainment of young people.

This also aligns with the government's commitment to encourage more partnerships between schools and universities.

We know there are persistent gaps in attainment between learners from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds, which start early in life and continue through school and into their later education and employment careers.

We also know that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on school pupils, disrupting education and assessment, impacting mental health and wellbeing, and obstructing careers advice and guidance.

How can schools help?

Schools can work with universities, colleges and other organisations to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and improve their chances of going on to higher education, getting a good degree and securing a graduate-level job.

Working in partnership will not only benefit the pupils who go on to higher education, but the institutions themselves and society in general.

It is vital that all involved in education, at whatever stage, work to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers through improving attainment much earlier in life.

Published 07 April 2022

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