In the UK, as in most other developed countries, the substantial increase in participation in higher education observed during the past three decades, has been accompanied by an increase in inequality in access. Indeed, the rate of participation of those coming from more affluent families grew much more than that of those coming from poorer backgrounds. Coupled with the substantial raise in the returns to higher education, this generated a significant exacerbation of within generation inequality.
Since the late 90s’ the UK has been trying to reverse this trend not just through the institution of loans and grants for students from low income families, but also through action aimed at removing some relevant non-financial barriers, namely aspirational ones. The Widening Participation (WP) policy, started in 1998, today receives over 350 million pounds per year of public funds to inspire youths from low socio economic background to go to university. My recent study evaluates the effectiveness of this policy among students who were in high school between 2004 and 2008.
My findings show that the WP policy succeeded in raising the aspirations of students eligible for the programme, and also positively impacted their likeliness to stay on at school. But this did not translate into an increase in college enrollment, except for those from the most affluent families.
With the abolition of student number controls this week, it is a good time to look at a history of how governments have tried to control student numbers
Do student satisfaction ratings affect university choices? New evidence about the National Student Survey
By Dr Steve Gibbons, London School of Economics
The season is here when next year’s school leavers start filling in their UCAS forms and applying to university. Yet, as any of us who know someone in this position will agree, picking a university is not always easy. For most subject areas, there are a large number of universities to choose from, and making a choice can involve a lot of research.
To help students with these difficult choices, The National Student Survey (NSS) was introduced in the mid-2000s to provide information about students’ satisfaction with their degree course. This survey has captured the attention of university lecturers and administrators, underpinned by concerns about the impact of scores on future recruitment. NSS scores are also one of several quality indicators used in the “league tables” published in newspapers and guidebooks. But do students really take any notice of satisfaction scores in making their university choices, or are other factors more important?
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According to UCAS table2a http://www.ucas.com/system/files/ucas-interim-assesement-entry-year-report-2013.pdf, 30% of ABB+ students don’t have A-levels. The majority have BTECs, though there are many other equivalent qualifications, listed here: http://www.ucas.com/sites/default/files/ABB%2Btable.pdf
Table 2b shows that the number of students with BTECs has increased dramatically since 2010.
So which unis are expanding?
New UCAS data show another increase for English students studying at Scottish Higher Education Institutions. But since 2012, Scottish HEIs can charge English students as much as £9k per year = £36k for a 4 year degree, versus max £27k in England. Strange that English participation in Scotland HEIs keeps rising!