Universities and colleges want to target a wider age range in their efforts to achieve government plans to expand higher education, writes Tony Tysome.
They have told funding council leaders that initiatives designed to provide 50 per cent of 18 to 30-year-olds with higher education places by 2010 need to focus on schoolchildren under 13 and on the over-30s to be effective.
Institutions responding to proposals in the Partnerships for Progression P4P project of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Learning and Skills Council argue that work on raising educational aspirations should begin from an early age. Raising participation among the over-30s was also important because people in this group were often parents and role models.
Hefce and the LSC consulted on its proposals from December last year until March. Respondents backed plans to build support for summer schools for schoolchildren into the P4P programme and to extend it geographically and in types of provision.
But higher education institutions expressed concern about proposals for targets and strategic plans at a regional level. Critics argued that targets were more effective at a sub-regional level.
The funding councils have warned of delays in setting up P4P because funding is yet to be announced by the government.