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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Education in the Media: 11 December 2017

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

Today’s Education in the Media looks at coverage of our announcement around accelerated degrees, and Amanda Spielman’s comments on school exclusions.

Accelerated degrees

On Sunday 10 December, the department announced a consultation to allow more students to benefit from two-year, accelerated degrees.

By giving students the opportunity to study a degree over a shorter time period than the traditional three year course, accelerated degrees could leave students over £25,000 better off and able to get into work a year earlier.

The proposals would also allow more mature students looking to retrain for a new job the opportunity to compress their studies and gain a degree on par with a three-year degree quicker.

The announcement has had wide-spread coverage throughout the media. Universities Minister Jo Johnson was interviewed on the Today Programme, Sky News and LBC Radio, and the announcement was also covered on BBC Breakfast.

There was further coverage in print and online outlets, including; BBC Online, The Daily TelegraphThe Sun, The Mail on SundayThe Independent, The TimesThe Guardian, and City AM.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

For too long we have been stuck with a system that has increasingly focused on offering only one way of benefiting from higher education, via the classic three yea degree programme.

The passage of the Higher Education and Research Act this year has finally enabled us to break the mould of this one-size-fits-all system so students have much more choice over how they learn.

Many will want to stick with the classic three year university experience, but for highly motivated students hungry for a faster pace of learning and a quicker route into or back into work, at lower overall cost, two year degrees will be well worth considering.

The announcement has also been welcomed by a number of stakeholders, including by:

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:

Accelerated degrees are an attractive option for mature students who have missed out on the chance to go to university as a young person. Having often battled disadvantage, these students can thrive in higher education and I hope that now many more will be able to take up the life-changing opportunity to get a degree.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:

Making two-year degrees more attractive makes sense as the current rules aren’t great and more diversity is generally good in higher education – so long as quality is maintained. So the overall idea of altering the financial rules for two-year degrees is sound or even overdue.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said:

Several universities have been offering two-year, fast-track degrees for a number of years, but demand has been limited under the current system. But if these proposals help encourage even more flexible modes of study, and meet the needs of a diverse range of students and employers, it is to be welcomed.

The priority is ensuring that each student is given good advice and information so that they can choose the course and university that is right for them. While the three-year undergraduate degree on campus will remain the preferred option for many students, accelerated degrees could also meet the needs of many students and their families.

Ofsted on vulnerable children

Yesterday, 10 December, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman was quoted in several papers on her concerns regarding vulnerable pupils and those with special educational needs being pressured to leave schools, to improve school rankings. The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Sunday Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer all covered the comments.

The department is absolutely clear that any decision to exclude a pupil should be lawful, reasonable and fair. Head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding any child with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The department also recognises that pupils with special education need and disabilities are more likely to be excluded and we have announced a review of exclusions practice, focusing on the experiences of those groups who are disproportionately likely to be excluded from school.

We introduced the biggest reforms to special educational needs and disability support in a generation, bringing in Education, Health and Care plans that are tailored to a child’s needs and backed by £391m extra funding to help councils deliver these reforms.

To read Jo Johnson’s comments on accelerated learner degrees, read here.

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