Universities to play bigger role in driving up school standards

Universities will be required to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children by driving up education standards in schools and colleges in the local community, which could include providing activities like tutoring.

Measures could include running a summer school, supporting curriculum development or offering students and lecturers to tutor pupils. There will be a shift away from working only with those pupils with the potential to go onto university as well as marketing activities that just benefit universities to an approach that improves education attainment.

They will also be required to set new ambitious targets to support students throughout their time at university by reducing dropout rates and improving progression into high paid, high skilled jobs.

Minister for Higher and Further Education Michelle Donelan will say: "Gone will be the days where universities were recruiting students onto courses that lead to dropping out, frustration and unemployment. A student’s outcome after university needs to be as important to providers as a student’s grades before university.

"We need to send a message to every disadvantaged young person thinking about higher education that they will have the support through school, college and university to get there and achieve a positive outcome for themselves."

In a speech today, Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan will tell universities to rewrite their plans around access and participation with tough, ambitious targets to increase the proportion of students studying degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualification or part time courses. All access and participation work will need to be focused on actions that support learners, with needless complexity and bureaucracy cut out.

The Office for Students will ensure that the new plans focus on ensuring that universities move from just getting disadvantaged students through the door, to admitting them onto courses that deliver positive outcomes; universities should tackle dropout rates and support them through university to graduation and into high skilled, high paid jobs.

They will also ensure there is a focus on working more with schools and colleges to raise standards in schools so students get better qualifications and have more options and can choose the path that is right for them, as well as offering more courses that are linked to skills and flexible learning such as degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications and part time courses.

There will also be a focus on cutting out complexity and bureaucracy from access and participation plans, giving universities more time to focus on disadvantaged learners.

Read more