22 August 2012
Association of Colleges’ Higher Education Policy Manager, Nick Davy said: “One of the key missions of the Further Education sector is to increase access and widen participation to HE particularly from groups unable to travel to a university and who may be less willing to build up high debts. Recent research commissioned by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills on HE in FE indicated that it attracts a higher proportion of students from low participation neighbourhoods.
“Widening participation is a task that our member colleges take very seriously and we can see from HEFCE’s data that Colleges are more than twice as effective as universitiesin reaching those groups from low participation and lower socio-economic backgrounds.
“Unfortunately, when working with students from these backgrounds there are added challenges, financial and familial, that mean it is no surprise that the non-continuation rate is slightly higher than average. However, these rates are very similar to those access universities that target the same social groups and have the same student social and demographic profile.
“Ultimately Colleges are in the vanguard of widening participation, improving higher education opportunities and providing local options.”