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Education in the media: Monday 26 February 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media looks at the Office for Students and faith-based admissions.

Office for Students

On Wednesday 28 February, the Office for Students (OfS) - the new regulator for universities - will hold a conference and publish its legal framework under which it will operate.

Ahead of this, the Times has splashed on the proposed powers for the OfS and the areas it will focus on when it goes live later this year and the Times leader looks at pay for senior staff at universities.

The chair of the OfS Sir Michael Barber was interviewed on the Today Programme where he talked about the powers of the OfS which will include value for money and the powers to intervene if needed. He was asked about the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, airing tonight Monday, 26 February - which will look at vice chancellor expenses, and was clear that the OfS expect value for money for all students.

The Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Daily Express, Sun and Metro focused their reporting on vice chancellor expenses, with references made to the continuing conversation around vice chancellor pay.

Our reforms are central to helping students make more informed choices about where and what to study, ensuring they get good value for money. We are also clear that expenses should be reasonable in all cases.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Universities have the freedom to manage their own finances but students and taxpayers rightly expect value for money in how they operate. Expenses should, in all cases, be reasonable.

The new regulator, the Office for Students, will also use its powers to ensure transparency and accountability when it comes to senior pay.

Faith-based admissions

Today, Monday 26 February, the Independent reported on the number of objections made to the Office of Schools Adjudicator over the past two years. The piece notes that there has been a 10 per cent rise in objections against faith-based admission policies in the past 12 months.

We are clear that all state funding schools must follow the School Admissions Code. It is also important to note that objections against a schools admissions policy can be made for a number of different reasons, and may not necessarily be associated with the faith of a school.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

All state-funded schools, including faith schools, must follow the School Admissions Code. Objections against a school’s admissions policy can be made for a range of reasons and not all of these relate to the faith of a school.”

The Government is committed to offering parents and children a diverse education system with a variety of high quality providers, including faith schools. We will be responding to the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation, including plans for the faith cap, in due course.

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