19 Jul 2016
The government has expressed a clear aim to encourage more flexible provision to meet students’ diverse needs. Modern universities have been at the forefront of providing flexible provision to widen opportunities to students from all backgrounds. Accelerated degrees are one form of flexible provision, but there are many other forms that are available and that may better extend opportunity to a wider range of students, including older learners, those wishing to study part-time, and those wanting to study for a degree while in employment. Modern universities are interested in different forms of provision that support and extend opportunities to new learners, and that take a learner-centred approach – and so they obviously have a willingness to adapt and plan different pathways.
MillionPlus supports any attempts to ensure degree provision is flexible and varied enough to adapt to the needs and demands of learners, particularly those with commitments outside of their university education. Investing in accelerated degrees and making it easier to switch courses or universities while holding on to credit already earned is likely to have a positive impact. However, it is important that the government supports and invests in all forms of flexible provision, rather than focusing on one type of course. It is also important that the government investigates and understands the barriers created by the current funding system, especially around the maximum fee that can be charged each year and the levels of support available to students. These barriers need to be addressed in order for flexible provision to be fully in the reach of all students that wish to benefit from it.