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The economic case for flexible learning in higher education

​​Universities UK is developing recommendations to enhance flexible learning opportunities in higher education, so that the needs of employers and learners are better met, and so that the UK has a strong skills base to prosper economically and compete internationally.​


These recommendations will inform the government’s review of post-18 education and funding, which will look specifically at how the government can encourage learning that is more flexible, and support people to study at different times in their lives.

Universities UK is working in partnership with the Confederation of British Industry​ (CBI) to gather views from the employer perspective, and is working with an advisory group chaired by Professor Julie Lydon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales, to gather evidence on the learner perspective. The project will look at the current student funding system in England and consider whether there are areas of best practice that can be drawn from the devolved administrations.

The research questions covered by the flexible learning project are listed below.
 
We invite all those who would like to contribute views on the questions or those who have conducted research relevant to the questions, to email their response to: flexi-learning@universitiesuk.ac.uk​ by Monday 23 April 2018.

The employer perspective​ ​​​

  1. Which employers and which sectors have been most affected by the fall in part-time and mature students?

  2. How have these employers responded, and what approaches have they taken to upskill and retrain their staff? What impact has this had on the skills and productivity of their workforce?

  3. Which employers and which sectors are in greatest future need of high-level skills an​d would benefit most from more flexible learning approaches? Which sectors will not meet their skills needs without greater numbers of people upskilling and retraining?

  4. What are the key priorities for these employers and sectors for flexible learning approaches going forward?​

​​​​The learner perspective​ ​​​

  1. What are the characteristics of the 'lost' part-time/flexible study students who since the reforms in 2012, have chosen not to participate in higher education study? What paths did they follow instead, and what has the impact been on their careers and lives?

  2. Who are the different groups of learners that a comprehensive lifelong learning education system should cater for?

  3. How are the needs of these different groups met through existing types of provision in England, across further education, higher education and other training? What needs are not being met through the current provision offered, and how significant are these needs?

  4. How strong are the current pathways for learners to progress to higher education and through different levels of higher education?

  5. How do these different groups access information on higher education and what information is currently provided?

  6. What lessons might be learned from the experience of the devolved administrations?​​

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