The National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and the National Union of Students (NUS) jointly call for a specific package of support to enable students looking to enter higher education (HE) in 2021 to be able to do so. The 2020-21 year 13/Year 2 of BTEC cohort are at high risk of having their progression to HE seriously damaged unless the government acts now. They have lost a significant amount of learning time in the first year of their Level 3 courses, the opportunity to receive support from universities to plan their future and will compete with students who have deferred places from 2020 for 2021 entry. Many are also experiencing ongoing disruption to their studies.
It is imperative that a comprehensive package of support is put in place that will enable these students, and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have been impacted the most by Covid-19 to progress to HE. This package should include the following measures:
- Form a special cross-sector taskforce including students, universities and schools/colleges and students to ensure that the class of 2021 are not unfairly disadvantaged in progressing to higher education and receive the support they need.
- Extending the deadline for UCAS applications for 2021 entry to give students more opportunity to consider future choices. They have already missed summer term 2020 when much higher education research takes place have had their opportunities to receive support in making applications in Autumn 2021 severely restricted.
- Support higher education providers with funding to be able to offer sufficient places to admit students from this cohort in 2021 in high cost subject areas and ensure all providers are supported to meet the demand for HE from students in 2021.
- Reduce the level of assessment required by students on pupils taking final A Level and other vocational examinations in summer 2021 or introduce a model of assessment based on teacher predications.
- Extend the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) eligibility to those undertaking A-Level and equivalent vocational qualifications from 16-19.
- Allocate further funding to the national Uni-Connect programme to enable greater individualised higher education Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) support focused on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and confirm funding for the programme beyond July 2021 when the programme is due to end to ensure that it the 29 regional partnerships do not lose key staff.
For further information please contact Maria-Anna Petrou at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To discuss the call for a specific support package for the Class of 2021 with the NUS please contact email@example.com.