The original aim of introducing a market into higher education was that student choice and competition between providers would improve quality and value for money. In reality the planned for competition did not emerge.
Most students are teenagers when they apply and are too often not getting the right advice and support they need. Decisions made in year 9 can have a serious impact on the choices young people are able to make when applying to universities and yet we were not convinced that the myriad of careers initiatives generated by Government are leading to demonstrably better advice for individual pupils.
Shorter degree courses and part-time courses have also not emerged. A number of Government policies are aimed at widening participation in higher education and this has to be a focus if the Government is serious about delivering its social mobility agenda. Experience shows that it cannot rely on the sector alone to deliver.
We spoke to the Office for Students at its inception and hope that it will set a clear marker that it really is acting in the interests of students from day one. It is still unclear how it will gauge the real concerns of students and ensure that institutions are delivering and sanctioned when they let students down.
It will be important to get right the change in the ease with which students are able to transfer institutions. This will not only be critical to the life chances of tens of thousands of young people, but also to creating the foundations for the UK to face the many challenges ahead.
Published: 15 June 2018