By on August 7, 2011

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes – the government Advocate for Access to Education – has published his final report to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The report makes over thirty recommendations to increase participation in higher education.

The recommendations are directed towards schools, colleges, universities, government and regulators. Simon Hughes says that efforts to increase participation in universities from underrepresented groups should start as early as 10 and 11 and that better careers information, advice and guidance is vital.

He also recommends that the national scholarship scheme should offer scholarships to every school and college – so every secondary school in Peterborough would have access to money that would help its pupils take up places at university.

Simon Hughes has written this report after spending six months listening to the views of young people, teachers and parents from around the country as well as education professionals and representatives from charities, universities, trade unions, and other representative organisations.

The report’s key recommendations are:

  1. Discussion of career options should start at primary school with 10 and 11 year olds.
  2. All secondary schools should have events for parents which bring together careers professionals, parents and students to discuss career, education and training options.
  3. Government should act urgently to guarantee face to face careers advice for all young people in schools.
  4. Students between 14 and 16 should be trained in basic financial management – to prepare them for adult life generally and for education, training and work choices in particular.
  5. All secondary schools and colleges should develop networks of former students willing to come back into school and work with current students to advise and answer questions about career, studies or life in general after school or college.
  6. Every school and college should be formally linked to at least one higher education institution by the end of 2011/12. In future the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) should make it a compulsory requirement for every university which wants to charge fees above the £6000 threshold to be an active member of a regional collaborative access body.
  7. Scholarships available through the national scholarship scheme for young people on low incomes should be allocated directly to every non-fee-paying English school and college.
  8. Government should reserve scholarships for courses which are linked to employment in the region of the university after the completion of the degree course.
  9. All higher education institutions should recognise credit for coursework completed in a different HEI, allowing students to transfer between courses and finish their degree at a different institution form the one where they started.
  10. Higher education institutions recruiting for longer courses and the organisations associated with these professions should have special programmes aimed at widening access to these courses and arrangements for them included in their access agreements.

Commenting on the publication of the report Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and government Advocate for Access to Education said:

“There has clearly been widespread concern about future participation in higher education before and after parliament took its decision last December on the financing arrangements for English universities. I hope that with the publication of this report we will be able to move the debate on to the many things we can call do to make sure our people have the best opportunities available to them for training, education and employment.

“The message I have heard from young people around the country is clear; we need better careers advice, starting early, and with parents as well as students given better information about going to university.

“It is crucial that decisions about higher education are made on the basis of costs and benefits and not fees, debts and loans.

“The next six months are vital and there is all to play for. With energy and imagination from all concerned, there is every reason for more people to see higher education as an opportunity which is right for them.”

About Peterborough Lib Dems

The Peterborough Liberal Democrats were formed in spring 1988 on merger of the old Liberal and Social Democratic parties. Life has often been a struggle but today it has emerged intact, boosted by electoral success and an expanding membership and with great prospects for the future!