The Open University has submitted a joint response with Birkbeck to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) calling for changes to higher education policy in England to help stimulate the part-time market. Following a request for ideas by Government officials, the OU and Birkbeck have called for a number of changes, including:
• The reversal of the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications(ELQ) policy, which prevents most students applying for a loan if they already have a degree,
• The protection of the Student Opportunity Allocation which is provided to support disadvantaged students and drive widening participation
• Widening the terms for loans for Postgraduate Taught Masters. The proposed terms for loans for Taught Masters students are currently restricted, prohibiting distance learners, those who study at under 50% intensity and those over the age of 29 from applying.
In addition, the two Institutions have called for the Government to examine more structural policy ideas to strengthen and broaden the sector and stimulate both supply and demand. Both Birkbeck and the OU believe that part-time HE should not be seen as a policy add-on to full-time HE but considered in its own right as a high-quality, flexible option for students that is well supported and resourced by the UK Government.
This submission is part of an ongoing campaign which has seen the OU step up its efforts to highlight the issues facing part-time study and promote its benefits since the Election. The two Universities have also combined – along with many other partners across the sector – for the new ‘Love Part-Time’ outreach campaign.