The Office for Fair Access closed at the end of 31 March 2018 and responsibility for higher education access regulation transferred to the Office for Students

Further decline in part-time student numbers “a profound concern” – Les Ebdon

Commenting on statistics on student enrolments published today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:

“Today’s figures show a 4 per cent decline in the number of part-time undergraduate students at English universities in 2016-17 compared with 2015-16. This is very disappointing indeed when we have seen part-time student numbers falling dramatically for a number of years.

“As part-time students are more likely to be from disadvantaged and under-represented groups, this continuing decline should be a profound concern to all those involved in widening participation. The opportunity to study part-time can open doors and change lives, especially for people who were not able to go straight into higher education after school.

“Universities and colleges have been working hard to understand the reasons for this trend, but incremental change is not enough for those potential students whose talent is being wasted by a lack of flexible study options that meet their needs. Change needs to happen now and the Office for Students should prioritise work to reverse this troubling trend.”


For further information contact Aislinn Keogh (Press and Communications Adviser) at OFFA on 0117 931 7173 or