29 June 2011
Yesterday the Government unveiled its white paper, Students at the Heart of the System, which sets out a number of proposed reforms for the higher education sector. The paper clearly puts students at the centre of the proposals. This is a welcome development and reflects what we have always done and what we believe at Bristol.
I thought it would be helpful to provide a brief summary of the key points.
The Government’s proposals cover four main themes: reforming funding; delivering a better student experience; enabling universities to increase social mobility; and reducing regulation and removing barriers for new providers.
Within these themes, the paper sets out a number of aims which can be categorised as follows:
The paper also aims to create an environment in which a wider range of providers can participate, as well as to make more provision within the Office for Fair Access to support the drive for fair access and widening participation across the sector.
Of course, many of the important details will continue to emerge over the coming months, but it is clear that the white paper seeks to set out a landscape in which it will be even more important for us to be agile and to be able to respond to student need, while also being clear about what a student can expect from Bristol.
I think it is also important to stress that the environment set out in the white paper does not mean a significant change in the way we conduct ourselves, but that we should be encouraged to build on our many strengths. We will continue to thrive and develop and we will do so by remaining true to our vision. I believe that the white paper does herald an important era for our sector and I also believe that we are well placed to respond to the challenges and opportunities that will arise from it over the coming months and years.
Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor