The decision by the Coalition government to extend loans to the majority of part-time students has been widely welcomed, although the significant cuts to the teaching grant has meant that most institutions have significantly increased their fees, albeit many students are eligible to take these out as a loan.
This will be the first major occasion to consider the implications of recent higher education policy changes on part-time provision. The first UCAS application figures under the new funding regime show a dramatic drop in applications from mature students, many of whom will have studied part-time previously. Given that nearly four in ten students in UK are part-time, it is a vital and still often overlooked segment of our higher education population, with a growing focus on 18 year olds now considering part-time as their first choice mode of study.
More widely, the higher education sector continues to go through a period of rapid reform. Although the framework for this change is less clear as the Coalition have indicated that there will not be any major legislation following the White Paper published in June 2011. But providers of higher education are looking to find new ways to deliver in more flexible ways, in line with demand from an increasingly diverse student population.