Understanding effective approaches to part-time provision
This project aims to advance the understanding of effective part-time provision for under-represented and disadvantaged students.
Why do we need to do this?
Evidence shows that, as a whole, part-time higher education provision plays a significant role in widening participation for students from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds and part-time students are more likely to be from these backgrounds.
Part-time study has sharply declined in recent years and this trend is continuing. As part-time students are more likely than others to be from under-represented groups, this has serious implications for fair access to higher education. There are also national concerns, such as skills shortages, that are not likely to be adequately addressed while individuals in work and/or a caring role are not accessing part-time higher education to gain appropriate (re)training and qualifications.
Research and discussion around the decline in part-time study has so far largely focused on systemic economic factors, and understanding other external variables that have led to the decline. However, the decline is not a uniform or universal trend across the sector and some institutions are not experiencing the same high levels of reduction in part-time student numbers.
The outcomes of this project will inform OFFA’s strategy and guidance in this area.
What has happened so far?
In October 2017, OFFA commissioned a research team led by Lindsey Bowes at CFE Research to investigate how part-time provision can successfully support disadvantaged and under-represented students to access and succeed in higher education.
What is happening now?
The team is using existing national-level data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and OFFA-approved access agreements and collecting new data (through surveys and case studies) to understand:
- Which part-time higher education providers have ‘bucked the trend’ in tackling the decline in part-time students to some extent?
- Which part-time higher education providers that have ‘bucked the trend’ are supporting significant numbers or proportions of disadvantaged and under-represented students?
- What can be learned from the part-time provision at higher education providers that have ‘bucked the trend’?
- What can be learned from the students studying on a part-time basis at higher education providers that have ‘bucked the trend’?
HESA has published a blog with further information about the project.
Lindsey Bowes, Research Director, CFE Research
Jenny Bermingham, Senior Statistical Analyst, HESA
Dr Guy Birkin, CFE Senior Research Executive, CFE
Matt Clarke, Analytical Solutions Specialist, HESA
Dr Suzie Dent, Head of Analysis, HESA
Rachel Moreton, Associate Director, CFE
Tej Nathwani, Senior Statistical Analyst, HESA
Dr Sarah Tazzyman, Research Manager CFE
What will happen next?
The project will be completed in April 2018 when the team will publish a report detailing their findings, which will inform OFFA’s strategy and guidance in this area.
Want more information?
Contact Kimberley Wooster, Evidence and Effective Practice Adviser (0117 931 7446, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Richard Shiner, Head of Evidence and Effective Practice (0117 931 7171, email@example.com)