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Widening participation in higher education in England

Student achievement rates in English higher education institutions have remained high during a period of considerable expansion of student numbers, although rates vary widely between institutions. The higher education sector will have to recruit and retain more students from hitherto poorly represented social groups and help them to succeed if the government’s learning targets are … Read more

Published:
18 Jan 2002
Report cover showing students reading a prospectus

Widening participation in higher education

“Not enough is known about the extent to which disadvantaged groups are under-represented in higher education, or what measures to widen participation are most effective. The Department and the Funding Council need to secure better data on participation, for example by social class or disability. They could tailor provision more closely to people’s circumstances, such as where they live and when they can study.”

Published:
25 Jun 2008
Cover of NAO Report Train to Gain: Developing the skills of the workforce

Train to Gain: Developing the skills of the workforce

“Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred. Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers.”

Published:
21 Jul 2009
Two students talking

The Customer First Programme: Delivery of student finance

“The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Student Loans Company underestimated, and therefore did not do enough to mitigate, the significant risks in integrating the student finance service previously carried out by 130 separate local authorities. Both bodies failed to grasp the magnitude of problems that were developing in 2009 as applications for loans, grants and allowances piled up and applicants struggled to contact the Company by telephone. In particular, students with disabilities were supported badly.

 

“The question must be asked how the Company, given its failure in 2009, will deal with twice as many applications in 2010, when it becomes responsible for applications from both first and second year students. The Department and the Company must give the highest priority to achieving a radical improvement in the service and, in so doing, to restoring the confidence of applicants and stakeholders. They will have to manage substantial risks.”

Published:
19 Mar 2010
Pen and Calculator

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report on the Department for Education’s financial statements 2015-16

The Comptroller and Auditor General has provided an adverse opinion on the truth and fairness of the Department for Education’s group financial statements 2015-16. He has also qualified his regularity opinion because the Department has exceeded two of its expenditure limits authorised by Parliament. The Department has many challenges to overcome if it is to implement successfully its plans to provide Parliament with a better picture of academy trusts’ spending next year.

Published:
20 Dec 2016
Report cover, showing modern school interior

The Building Schools for the Future Programme: Renewing the secondary school estate

“Building Schools for the Future is a highly ambitious £55 billion programme. Converting that ambition to reality requires robust planning, close cost control and making a success of complex long-term partnerships. Partnerships for Schools and the Department were too optimistic in their early plans though programme management has since improved. But it remains a real challenge, in difficult market conditions, to deliver the 250 schools a year that will be needed, to include all schools by 2020 as currently planned.”

Published:
12 Feb 2009