Part-time study decline ‘set to continue’, warns key report

The dramatic decline in part-time students will continue this year, according to a report that calls for an “urgent push” to promote such study.

October 16, 2013

The Universities UK report, published today, was commissioned by the government in response to a 40 per cent decline in part-time undergraduate numbers in England in the two years since 2010-11.

“Indications for 2013-14 are that the level of decline will not be stemmed,” says the review, titled The power of part-time: review of part-time and mature higher education and chaired by University of Bristol vice-chancellor Eric Thomas.

Factors behind the sharp decline identified by the report include the tough economic climate restricting employers’ willingness to support study and individuals’ readiness to commit to courses, as well as the advent of £9,000 fees in England.

Among the report’s recommendations are that higher education institutions, government and funding councils “should consider the needs of part-time and mature students as an intrinsic part of their thinking, not as an add-on”.

On the required “urgent push” to promote part-time study, it recommends that bodies including UUK, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Confederation of British Industry and Trades Union Congress “implement a clearly targeted national communications strategy, aimed at both potential students and employers, to encourage mature and part-time students into higher education. This should be done immediately in order to have an effect on 2014-15 entry.”

The report acknowledges that higher education institutions widely see the bar on funding for second degrees – the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQ) rule – as a barrier for part-time students.

However, the recommendations do not state that the rule should be changed, only that the recent, limited reforms to the rule announced by the government should be “monitored carefully”.

Professor Thomas said: “The reality is that the UK needs more graduates and relies heavily on part-time higher education to meet fast changing skills needs in a fast changing world. We ignore part-time study’s transformative power for individuals and society at our peril.”

He added: “In England in particular, numbers are declining and do not look like rallying…This review is the beginning of a process of universities working together with partners to take steps in addressing this issue. We cannot and must not give up on these students.”

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest