There has been a 40% reduction in the number of part-time students attending UK universities in the past two years, according to a report released last week.
The report, published by Universities UK, noted that the dramatic drop was due to recent changes to higher education such as the rise in tuition fees and the current tough economic climate.
Millie Ceplak, a part-time student at Nottingham, told Impact that she had changed from a full time course as it allows her to “perform to the best of my abilities on the academic side, but also to take advantage of the extra-curricular activities on offer at university” before going on to argue that the possible reason for the drop was that people “simply aren’t aware of how flexible part time study can be.”
Full time Nottingham Politics student Tom Sokolyk told Impact that he did not consider doing a part time course as it “does not allow for the same level of immersion in my studies”, citing that a part time undergraduate degree can take anything between five and seven years.
The decrease, which amounts to a drop of about 105,000 students, requires “immediate action” according to the UUK report. In recent years the Government has attempted to create equality between students, with tuition fees having been made available to those who choose to study part time.
Despite this movement, the Equal or Lower qualifications (ELQ) loan barrier remains in place, meaning part-time students may end up paying more when compared to full time counterparts. Universities Minister David Willets told the Conservative Party Conference that “one could dream of a world where we just get rid of it”, referring to the ELQ loan barrier.
A Higher Education Funding Council report recently suggested that part-time students cost approximately 15-44% more for Universities to recruit, retrain and support than full-time students, implying that not only is there less motivation for students to choose a part time course but there is also less reason for Universities to encourage students to do a part-time course.
According to Willets “Institutions must also play their part to encourage more part-time study by highlighting the benefits to prospective students”.