The UK launched its Review of Part-time and Mature study in higher education on 16 October. This provides a rich overview of the multiple forces that have been impacting on part-time study for over a decade and especially in the last 2-3 years.
The report reiterates what many practitioners have been saying for a long time - that this part of the sector is large and multi-faceted, essential to the economy and to individual aspirations, yet largely invisible, often misunderstood and in many ways poorly served.
No doubt different people will take different things from the Review. For me, the points that came across most strongly were that most part-time students are on low incomes, attend a local HEI, and that the largest drops in part-time numbers come from the least wealthy part of the country. The most disadvantaged are least likely to receive full employer support for part- time study.
This makes it all the more important that Universities and Colleges do all that they can to assist local people to gain the information, guidance and support that they require in order to access higher education and succeed on their courses.