The Milburn Report: University Challenge: How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility was published earlier this month. In it, the importance of foundation degrees in supporting those from disadvantaged social backgrounds is highlighted.
From work we’ve carried out at the EPC, we believe that applicants to engineering are much more likely that applicants for almost every other subject to have at least one BTEC qualification. Those with BTEC qualifications tend to be students with non-traditional educational backgrounds, as do those who carry on to do an engineering degree following a foundation year where again, it appears that, based on the limited data available, a higher proportion of such students than the institutional average are likely to be from the lowest quintile of participation (based on POLAR classification).
The Million+ Group and the Director of the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Group have both made representations about how current policy on student number control (ABB+ equivalence) is bound to disadvantage students from non-traditional backgrounds. The EPC is adding its voice to that. HEFCE’s response is that this will affect only a small number of students but there has been no detailed hard evidence made public to support this statement. We will be calling for the evidence to be made available. The Milburn Report highlights a couple of good case studies (congrats to Durham and Plymouth Universities) but we’d also like to see the stats.