Office for Students consultation on regulating access and participation

12 October 2018

The new regulatory approach to access and participation must be risk-based and underpinned by evidence and support providers to be strategic and ambitious. The move to multi-year access and participation plans and the focus on building the evidence base is particularly helpful in this regard, but we have a number of concerns about whether all elements of the proposed regulatory approach will deliver on the above intentions. For example:

  • The new regulatory approach should reflect the diversity of the sector and the complex and varied nature of the challenges different institutions face with regard to promoting access and participation.
  • The approach to regulating access and participation should be transparent and accountable. Further clarity is needed regarding the definition of risk and how this will be applied in practice to ensure institutions can reasonably predict how they will be classified and take any appropriate action. We would therefore welcome a published methodology for classifying risk.
  • The effectiveness of the access and participation dataset in identifying the most under-represented and disadvantaged students will be critical to the success of the regulatory model and must therefore be accurate and fit-for-purpose.
  • The regulator should consult further with the sector to agree a range of appropriate indicators for use in setting targets and tracking performance.
  • The approach to target-setting could do more to incentivise collaborative working rather than encouraging institutions to compete with one another for a small pool of suitably qualified applicants.

Whilst the intention to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden is welcome, it is unclear to what extent the proposed new regulatory approach delivers on this, even for those providers classified as “low risk”. Producing information on anticipated resource requirements for providers would be helpful to ensure a reduction in regulatory burden is delivered in practice.

Read more in our full submission to the OfS consultation.

Response to Office for Students consultation on regulating access and participation

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