Independent Higher Education (IHE) is greatly encouraged by today’s changes to the Higher Education and Research Bill which respond to our specific proposals for promoting greater flexibility and student choice in higher education. The amendments tabled by the higher education minister Jo Johnson will support flexible, lifelong learning as well as a greater diversity of higher education provision. They will also drive forward the strong role education plays in the economy by providing for mature students, career changers and professionals looking to develop their skills.
IHE has been practically alone in championing both accelerated degrees and a more efficient credit transfer system for several years now, because our members have had extensive direct experience of the benefits and challenges of meeting student demand for more flexible provision. The Bill as amended will now effectively support this flexibility and the innovation in course design that it enables.
Many IHE members already offer accelerated degrees, and today’s change will make them more appealing and accessible to a wider range of students by fully funding them for the first time. The removal of these financial barriers and a new focus on smoother credit transfer, overseen by the Office for Students, will allow providers to tailor their provision and pathways to meet the diverse needs of different students, including those from non-traditional backgrounds, and provide them with more opportunities than ever before.
Alexander Proudfoot, Chief Executive of Independent Higher Education, said:
“Independent providers have pioneered immersive two-year degree programmes which act as a fantastic springboard into work for students who know the career they want and are eager to start. I am delighted that the Minister has now answered our call and hope this significant change will encourage more public universities to follow our lead in offering students the more flexible options they want.
“A better solution for credit accumulation and transfer is another reform that we have pressed for years so it is very welcome to hear that the Office for Students will be empowered to act on this. Students deserve proper recognition of their effort and achievements should their circumstances change or their course not live up to its promise, and this is a big step in the right direction.
“We look forward to helping the Government put these important polices into practice through further consultation in the months ahead. It’s time now for Parliament to complete its legislative scrutiny and for the detailed work of implementation to begin. Encouraging innovation, greater flexibility, smarter regulation and strengthened institutional autonomy: this is the HE Bill our sector and students need.”
- On 24th February 2017