Pupils could be barred from taking out student loans if they fail GCSE maths and English, as part of government plans to tighten controls on higher education.
The proposals, due out later this week before going out for consultation, would see the introduction of both student number controls and minimum entry requirements for certain university applicants.
The Department for Education (DfE) said the measures are being considered in order to prevent pupils from being ‘pushed into higher education before they are ready’ and to ensure that ‘poor quality courses and low cost have no incentive to grow out of control”. .
Plans will include a suggestion that students who do not get 2Es at A level or equivalent or at least a Year 4 pass in English and maths at GCSE cannot get student loans, a doorman has said -word of the DfE.
Around a third of pupils are currently failing to achieve a Grade 4 – the equivalent of a C or a pass in the previous system – in English and maths.
The planned overhaul, first reported in the Daily Telegraph, comes as the number of young people leaving school and choosing to pursue higher education continues to rise, according to new figures.
Data from the University Admissions Service Ucas shows that 320,000 sixth form students have already applied for university places, up from 306,000 in 2021.
The number of poorer students pursuing higher education has also increased, with 28% of 18-year-olds from the most deprived areas applying this fall compared to just under 18% in 2013.
The DfE said that while the number of applicants increases, “not all students receive the same quality of education” and many go into debt for courses with poor job prospects.
A DfE spokesperson said in a statement: “Our universities are a great British success story. They are drivers of innovation and play a key role in revolutionizing the skills system, helping to make lifelong learning possible with more flexibility and technical training.
“But we need to make sure that we create opportunities that will not only open doors, but develop the talent our country needs to thrive now and in the future.
“Higher education is an investment and we must ensure that graduates are rewarded for the money, time and effort they put into their studies with an educational experience and jobs that match their skills and contribute to the economy.”
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