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Are prospective students in the know?

82% of A-level students completely unaware of the alternatives for university

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 17, 2017 | Higher education

Despite the recent results of HEFCE’s 2017 national student survey, there are in fact record numbers of students enrolled on three-year campus-based degree courses within UK higher education.

Equally surprising, is the lack of awareness of education options amongst 82% of learners, with 77% of students also reporting that they didn’t know about alternative ways to study a degree, such as online, in this recent poll by Student Crowd

The standard university offer has increased in popularity over the last decade, with billboards at stations and airports indicative of the intense competition between universities to attract new students. 

In spite of the fierce competition between institutions, today’s results may seem make or break for many A-level students set on a course to their dream career - via the traditional route of a three year degree - but there are alternatives, and not just through clearing. 

Policy Connect is shortly to release a parliamentary report on alternative provision in higher and further education, and whether alternative models offer a real challenge to the status quo.

For it to thrive, the HE sector needs to boost ways of learning and offer choice and opportunity for students in order to improve its complex and nuanced product

Jon Wakeford, Member of the HE Commission and Director of Strategy at UPP, said: “Whilst universities currently appear to be doing a very good job at providing a higher education closely tailored to the needs of their students, like other industries, HE cannot be complacent. For it to thrive, the HE sector needs to boost ways of learning and offer choice and opportunity for students in order to improve its complex and nuanced product. Within this context, it is notable therefore, that the three year, campus-based model of delivery continues to hold sway in the thinking of students.

“We know that successfully completing their studies, having an excellent experience and gaining employability skills are key drivers for students. Diversifying ways of learning will help to respond to the different needs of students and is an important element to improving social mobility throughout HE. We’re pleased to support this report by Policy Connect and believe it provides a springboard to innovation.”

One of the key areas investigated by this 5th inquiry of the HE Commission, has been how technology is utilised to deliver different models or styles of learning.

Commissioner for the inquiry, Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc - the edtech provider for education and research - commented, “Whatever route taken by those who open their results today, their future will be digital. In examining the diversity of provision across higher and further education, there have been some excellent examples of technology enhanced learning, which the whole sector can benefit from.” 

If the education sector is to ‘deliver choice and opportunity for students’ (BIS 2016) - as outlined by government plans to introduce new ‘challenger institutions’ - students need also to be aware of their options.

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