Thursday 12th October 2017
This event follows the publication of the Government’s consultation on Part-Time Maintenance Loans and is scheduled to take place a year ahead of their implementation for students beginning courses in September 2018. It is an opportunity for policymakers and delegates alike to discuss the priorities for reversing the decline in the number of part-time and mature students over recent years.
Widening Participation to All Learners
Sessions will discuss recent trends in part-time and mature student numbers, and will consider some of the key factors for the ongoing decline in applications, including the impact caused by the rise in tuition fees and the associated cost of living, alongside more practical barriers such as location of study, external responsibilities and availability of time to study, as well as the lack of information to prospective students. Attendees will discuss how the introduction of maintenance loans for part-time students from the 2018/19 academic year might offset the recent decline in student numbers, discuss the scope of the loans, particularly whether or not they should be extended to postgraduate level study, as well as looking forward to their implementation and dissemination of information to potential students. Delegates will evaluate whether there has been any progress made since the publication of Universities UK’s report The power of part-time, published in 2013, and consider the recommendations from the recent University Alliance report Lifelong Learning: Ladder and Lifeline.
The Value of Part-Time Study for Employers
Sessions will also discuss how flexible learning can benefit the UK’s economy, particularly working with employers to identify skills gaps and utilise the option to study alongside work to upskill or retrain workers. Delegates will consider the success of Employer Sponsored Degrees, what more can be done to encourage companies to sign up to these models and raise awareness of their availability to young people in schools as well as those looking for a career change. Delegates will also consider how universities and colleges can work better with employers, local authorities as well as the Government to offer programmes that work for all involved and increase the number of flexible courses available, as well as assess the impact of the merger between NIACE and CESI and consider the role of the new National Learning and Work Institute in advocating the importance of part-time study to employers.
Alternative Modes of Lifelong Study
Following the publication of the Government’s Green Paper on its Industrial Strategy, which included a focus on encouraging lifelong learning, sessions will discuss strategies to ensure more people have access to Further and Higher Education, or even alternative qualifications, at any point in their lives. Delegates will consider the role community and online learning has, particularly approaches such as night schools, as well as what can be done to encourage take-up in ‘technical education’, including the role UCAS or a similar body could play. Delegates will also assess the extent to which the recent move by FutureLearn to launch MOOCS (massive open online courses) that allow learners to earn credits towards university degrees, as well as those that lead towards professional qualifications, will change the way that people choose to study and the way that courses are delivered in the future. Attendees will also consider what effect the price attached to these courses is likely to have on uptake or value to learners. Sessions will also discuss the potential impact the Government’s emphasis on apprenticeships might have on the number of part-time or mature students, as well as the role Degree-level apprenticeships could play in increasing the number of these types of learners.