Commenting on the Office for Students’ (OfS) pledge to reduce “equality gaps” within five years, Reform Education lead, Imogen Farhan, said:
“The intention behind this pledge is welcome and more active monitoring of universities’ performance by the regulator will make a difference.
“But whether the OfS’ proposals are radical enough to reverse universities terrible track record on widening participation is questionable. Just 12 per cent of students came from low participation neighbourhoods in 2018/19 – the same proportion as in 2014/15.
“These plans will not force universities to publish in depth analysis of how widening participation budgets are spent, making detailed evaluation of value for money impossible. The OfS will also primarily use neighbourhood-level data to measure its success, which ignores key indicators of disadvantage such as a free school meal status.
“Unless these issues are addressed, the OfS may struggle to achieve its ambitious objective.”
Covered in The Financial Times and FE News.