OFFA announced today, 6 February, that HE providers in England will not be required to produce five-year strategies for access and student success as previously announced. In making the announcement OFFA and HEFCE stated:
‘We have jointly taken this decision because of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ unexpected delay in sending HEFCE’s grant letter, and because we appreciate that institutions need to make progress with their access and student success plans…..’
The delay in launching the National Strategy for Access and Student Success, originally due for publication in Autumn 2013, led to speculation that budget cuts in BIS were the reason for the hold-up. The strategy, developed jointly over the last two years by HEFCE and OFFA, was designed to provide a framework for universities and colleges with Access Agreements to develop their own five-year institutional strategies.
Guidance for production of the 2015/16 Access Agreement originally scheduled for publication on 23 January, has now been delayed until later this month.
If members have information on the situation in the rest of the UK it would be very interesting to hear as these cuts could have a significant impact on our work.