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Education in the media: 27 October

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Admissions, Equalities, Higher Education

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Today's news review looks at a survey from the Sixth Form Colleges Association, the release of the latest UCAS application statistics and the data from the Office for National Statistics on the gender pay gap.

Sixth Form Colleges

A survey from the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) published today claims that two thirds (66%) of sixth form colleges have been forced to drop courses due to funding cuts and cost increases.

The story was covered in the Guardian, BBC Online, FE Week and TES as well as being on the broadcast bulletins for 5 Live, Today programme, BBC News and the Victoria Derbyshire Show.

The Department is protecting the national annual base rate of £4,000 per student for 16 - 19 education in all types of institution, including sixth form colleges. This is contributing to an investment of around £7 billion during this year alone, to ensure there is a place in education or training for every 16- to 19-year-old who wants one.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Every young person should have access to an excellent education and we have protected the base rate of funding for all post-16 students until 2020 to ensure that happens. We’ve also ended the unfair discrimination between colleges and school sixth forms and we now ensure funding is based on student numbers rather than discriminating between qualifications.


On top of this we are providing more than half a billion pounds this year alone to help post-16 institutions support students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with low prior attainment.

UCAS Statistics

Today UCAS published statistics relating to applications for higher education courses with an early deadline including medicine, dentistry, and veterinary degrees, as well as for all courses at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. The key findings from these statistics is that the number of applicants from the UK has risen by 3% whereas the number of applicants from the EU has fallen by 9%.

This story was covered by PA and has seen been picked up online by the Guardian, the Times, HuffPost, Politics Home, the Sun, Telegraph and the TES.

Normally fewer than 10% of applicants have applied by the early deadline so these statistics are not a reliable guide to overall applications for the 2017 cycle. The Department has confirmed that EU students applying to study in the 2017 cycle will be eligible to apply for student funding under current terms and will have their eligibility maintained throughout the duration of their course.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

International students make an important contribution to the UK’s world-class universities. It is too early in the application cycle to predict reliable trends, but the overall increase in applicant numbers is positive – and suggests even more students will be able to benefit from higher education next year.

Gender pay gap

Today the Office for National Statistics published the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings that shows data on the difference between men and women’s earnings. It shows the gender pay gap has narrowed to 18.1%, decreasing from 19.3% in 2015, making it the largest year-on-year drop since 2010. When the survey began in 1997 the gap for all employees was 27.5%.

This story has been picked up online by Sky News, the Telegraph, Daily Mail and Bloomberg.

The UK now has the lowest gender pay gap on record and the Government is committed to eliminating it. We are working with employers to tackle the barriers that can stop women from reaching their full potential in the workplace, such as offering shared parental leave, flexible working and doubling the amount of free childcare available to working parents.

Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening said:

It is fantastic to see we now have the lowest gender pay gap on record. No woman should be held back just because of her gender.


The changes we’ve made so that men and women can share their parental leave, the support we’re giving to get more women into the top jobs at our biggest companies and our drive to get more girls taking STEM subjects at school are all helping to reduce this gap.


We’ve achieved amazing things but there’s more to do – that’s why we are pushing ahead with plans to require businesses to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time ever from April next year.



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