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Birkbeck and the Open University urge Government to stimulate part-time study

Birkbeck and the Open University have called on the Government to stimulate part-time study.

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Birkbeck, University of London and the Open University have today called for the Government to make changes to Higher Education (HE) policy in England to help stimulate part-time study.

The UK’s two specialist part-time HE institutions have made a joint submission to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, stemming from a request for ideas by Government officials.

The submission calls for the inclusion of part-time Higher Education in the scope of the new employer levy and for the Government to examine structural policy ideas to strengthen and broaden the sector and stimulate both supply and demand.

Including part-time HE in the scope of the new employer levy, which is designed to fund an ambitious increase in Apprenticeships in the UK, would put the employer in the driving seat. It would give businesses far greater flexibility when considering higher skills and would be lower cost to government than direct additional subsidy for part-time higher education.

In addition, both institutions have called on the Government to revoke the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (EQL) policy and to widen the terms for Postgraduate loans. The proposed terms for loans for this group of students are currently restricted, prohibiting distance learners, those who study at under 50% intensity and those over the age of 29 from applying for loans.

Both Birkbeck and the OU believe part-time HE should not be seen as a policy add-on to full-time HE but considered in its own right as a high-quality, flexible option for students that is well supported and resourced by the UK Government.

This submission forms part of Birkbeck’s continuing advocacy for the benefits to students and the economy of combining work and study. At Birkbeck students study in the evening, enabling them to work during the day. This unique approach enables adult students from diverse social and educational backgrounds to participate in our courses, to upskill and contribute fulsomely to the economy.