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Supporting Widening Access and Success - England

Context

The Office for Students (OFS) the new HE regulatory body in England, requires HE providers who charge above the £6,000 basic fee to commit a proportion of that additional income to supporting students from diverse backgrounds, to be able to access HE and achieve equitable outcomes.  This commitment is made explicit through institutional Access and Participation Plans (APPs) which are submitted and approved annually by the OFS.  The OU's APP for 2019-20 is currently with the OFS awaiting approval.  We are currently working to delivering our Access Agreement 2018-19.  Access Agreements preceed APPs under the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).  What follows reflects our commitments in the current Access Agreement.

Through its social justice mission, the OU is already committed to supporting all of its students into and through HE.  Most of our students study part-time although an increasing number are studying to the equivalent of full-time intensity, including those studying on our full-time nursing degree.  Our low fees are based on studying 60 credits per academic year (half of full-time credit) but studying at full-time intensity takes us over the £6,000 threshold.  Our Access Agreement reinforces our commitment to access and success and meets regulatory requirements.  

The OU's Access and Participation Plan with the Office for Students 2019-20

The OU's Access Agreement with the Office for Fair Access 2018-19

Targets

We are currently working towards the following targets:

  • To maintain the proportion of new students from widening participation backgrounds at 17.5%.
  • To reduce the black degree awarding gap from 30.6% to 25% by 2022/23.
  • To reduce the disabled student degree awarding gap from 4.8% to 3% by 2022/23.

Provision of support for students in secure environments (SiSE) in England is provided through the SiSE team within Widening Access and Success Services (WASS).