This House of Commons briefing paper discusses the impact of easing lockdown restriction on the FE and HE sectors in England. The paper outlines issues such as: re-opening campuses, prospective students numbers in 2020/21, temporary students numbers controls and delivery of courses in 2020/21. It also highlights issues such as the impact on graduate employability and the lack of catch up funding for FE colleges.

On 20 March 2020 colleges and universities were closed in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The closure of institutions raised a significant number of issues for providers and students and caused considerable concern about the financial future and stability of the post-18 education sector.

This briefing follows on from two earlier briefing papers : Coronavirus: implications for the further and higher education sectors in England, 17 April 2020 which discussed concerns that were raised in the early weeks of lockdown and Coronavirus: Update on Coronavirus: implications for the further and higher education sectors in England, 21 May 2020 which gave updates on developments during lockdown including the Government’s 4 May 2020 announcement of a support package for universities and students.

This paper addresses concerns about the impact of easing lockdown restrictions, such as re-opening campuses and colleges and discusses future delivery of courses and implications of policy changes such as the introduction of temporary student numbers controls. It also highlights isssues such as the impact on graduate employability and the lack of catch up funding for FE colleges.

The latest information from universities is that around three quarters will start courses again in autumn 2020 and the majority will be a mixture of online learning and some face-to-face teaching.

According to UCAS more prospective new students are considering changing their plans. Their latest planning assumptions are for a cut in new full-time home undergraduates of between 2% and 10% in 2020/21. This is broadly supported by evidence from surveys which show the prospect of online learning has made some students think about alternatives including taking a gap year.

Surveys of overseas students show only a small minority have (so far) decided not to study overseas. There was a strong support for face-to face leaning among overseas students with some prepared to defer entry to later in the year or to 2021/22 to ensure this.

This paper follows a similar format to the earlier paper and was correct at the time of writing. For later information readers should consult Government and stakeholder websites set out below: