Students must help shape the future of higher education, says regulator

The call comes from the OfS as it publishes its three-year strategy, ‘Students – experts in their own experience’

The independent regulator of higher education in England has published a three-year strategy for ensuring that students help shape the future of HE.

‘Students – experts in their own experience’, says the Office for Students (OfS), was developed over the last year in partnership with learners from a plethora of backgrounds, alongside the body’s 14-member student panel.

‘Engaging seriously with students is critical to our success as a regulator,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS.

We hope that this will be the kind of partnership that accepts challenge and critical friendship
 – Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS VP

“It is clear to me that, if we are regulating for students, we have to listen to what they say and make sure that what we do reflects their priorities. Otherwise we won’t be a good regulator – it’s as simple as that.”

To that end, the first year of the strategy will see the OfS carry out such pilot activities as:

  • Working with students to ensure its notifications system for highlighting issues on campus is clear and straightforward to use
  • Engaging students and applicants to contribute to its review of the admissions system
  • Working with students to ensure that HE institutions provide effective support over harassment and sexual misconduct issues

In response, the National Union of Students said the strategy’s publication showed the OfS had “recognised the need for partnership with students and students’ unions at the heart of their work”.

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“We hope that this will be the kind of partnership that accepts challenge and critical friendship, and that rebalances power across education,” said Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS vice-president (higher education).

“We also know that many students hold opposition to the way that OfS sees itself as a market regulator, and we hope that there is room for this opposition to be heard and taken on board in OfS’s work. NUS will continue to work to empower students to shape the education that they want to see.”

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