Widening access and participation in higher and further education is a priority for this government. Everyone with the capability to succeed should have the opportunity to benefit from a university education, regardless of their background or where they grew up. On 1 February 2019, we announced measures to tackle ethnic disparities in higher education. The announcement is attached and can also be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universities-must-do-more-to-tackle-ethnic-disparity.
The new regulator for higher education, the Office for Students (OfS) has a statutory duty in regards to students who share particular characteristics, (protected under the Equality Act 2010), and where there is specific evidence that barriers exist that may prevent equality of opportunity, including those from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Through Access and Participation Plans agreed with the OfS, higher education providers are expected to reduce the gaps in access, success and progression for under-represented groups amongst their students.
Eligible 16 to 19 year olds do not pay tuition fees for post-16 further education (e.g. A Levels and approved technical qualifications). This enables young people to meet the requirement of continuing to participate in education or training beyond the age of 16.
Eligibility to receive public funding for further education for adults (those aged 19 and above), is based on age, prior attainment and a learner’s circumstances. Skills provision is prioritised and focussed towards young adults, those with low skills and unemployed people who are actively seeking work.
In addition, the government also provides financial support to enable learners to participate in post-16 further education, whatever their financial situation. This includes contributions to costs such as transport, childcare, essential books, equipment and accommodation.