16 October 2013

million+ calls for more support for flexible study and mature students

The university think-tank million+ has welcomed the publication of a report on part-time and mature undergraduate students by Universities UK. The report confirms the drop in part-time and mature students studying for a degree and calls for the benefits of studying part-time to be promoted. In June 2013, million+ called for the return of the part-time premium to help universities to support the part-time market and a high profile campaign, led by Government, focusing on mature students.

Professor Michael Gunn, Chair of the university think-tank million+ and Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University said:

“There is a real risk that the benefits of studying part-time and studying at university later in life are being lost in campaigns which focus on younger students.”

“However, improved communications are only part of the answer. It is clear that the Government in England thought that adopting a system where the headline fee was £9000 and offering fee loans to part-time students would incentivise part-time study. Even though the recession had already triggered a decline in demand no research was undertaken on the impact on part-time and mature students of these proposals in advance of them being tabled in Parliament.”

“Research undertaken by million+ and London Economics has revealed that the new fee loan system for part-time students benefits the Treasury and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has reduced the budget set aside for part-time student loans.”

“Studying at university later in life or on a part-time basis provides real benefits for individuals and their families but also to employers.”

“Any future review of the fees and funding system and recent calls to increase full-time fees should not be considered on a stand-alone basis. The needs of part-time and mature students must be built into the equation from the start so that we have the kind of holistic system which operates in other countries where flexible modes of learning are encouraged.”

Ends

Notes to editors
1. For more information please contact Pam Tatlow on 0207 717 1655 or 07795 645241.
2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information about million+ can be found at www.millionplus.ac.uk
3. London Economics is one of Europe’s leading specialist economics and policy consultancies, and undertakes work for a range of public and private clients, including Government.
4. ‘Are the changes to higher education funding in England cost-effective?’ was the second of a series of Behind the Headlines pamphlets published by million+ and London Economics on the economic outcomes and options of different funding regimes for higher education and student support. The report highlighted the costs and savings to the Treasury of the new part-time student loan system.
5. Jointly with the NUS, million+ published a major research report on mature students Never too late to learn in May 2012.
6. Universities UK's review of part-time and mature higher education can be found here