Brightside and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have released a collection of action points for the new Office for Students on unlocking access to higher education. Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation contains the views of 35 leading thinkers from academia, university administration, Parliament, think tanks and the media.
We’re also publishing each entry individually. Here Rosemary Bennett, Education Editor at The Times, gives her perspective:
‘The Office for Students should take action to curb the surge in unconditional offers before it becomes another
distortion in the higher education ‘market’, damaging the life chances of some of the most underprivileged students.
Once the preserve of the brightest and best, pupils heading for mediocre A-Level grades are increasingly being bribed by lower-ranking universities with these highly questionable offers, with the proviso that they make it their firm choice. The risk is these students, perhaps lacking confidence in their abilities and unfamiliar with the system, trade down to a university they know they will definitely get into, underperform in their exams and get lumbered with poor A-Levels for the rest of their lives.
Second, but related, would be a universal system in transferrable credits so bright students who really take to their studies at university can trade up to a better institution after a year. If there is thriving competition between universities, as we are often told, it should not stop at the point of admission. Users need to be able to switch supplier.’