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National higher education access strategy welcomed

3 April 2014

UCU has today welcomed the publication of the national strategy for access and student success in higher education, produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office of Fair Access to Higher Education (OFFA).

The strategy includes a series of progress indicators for access to higher education, retention and student success, and progression into further study or employment. The union said that it is pleased to see some concrete measures being set out to track success in these areas.

UCU also welcomed the report's recognition that further work is required to address issues around access to postgraduate study, and the varying attainment and employment outcomes for students with different characteristics. However, it suggested that additional work is required to address the recent fall in numbers of male, part-time and mature students.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are pleased to see the publication of the long-awaited National Strategy. The joint approach from HEFCE and OFFA is a useful one, and we welcome the report's identification of progress indicators for access, retention, success and progression. 

'We know that participation in higher education affords quantifiable benefits for individuals, the economy and society as a whole. It is therefore appalling that outcomes are still determined to a large degree by an individual's socioeconomic background.

'Our own work has shown that improving participation in higher education requires a truly lifelong approach. We believe that a number of systemic issues, including poor investment in early years provision and the incoherence of the information, advice and guidance (IAG) system, need to be addressed if we truly hope to enable everyone to succeed in higher education. As well as looking more closely at postgraduate study and outcomes, further work is also required to investigate the reasons behind recent drops in male, part-time and mature student participation.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015