...to support every student to succeed in reaching their potential

A clear focus on students is one of IHE’s core values and is shared across the independent providers in our membership. As the first and only higher education representative body to welcome a student representative onto our Board, we are committed to placing the student interest at the centre of our policy work and proposals for reform.

The sheer diversity of the population who are learning with independent providers reminds us daily that there is no single type of student, but there are some common challenges they all face today that should be urgently addressed by the next Government.

The next Government should:

3. Deliver a modern maintenance system that allows students to focus on their studies

Students have been amongst the most severely impacted by the cost of living crisis in the past two years, with inflation eroding the value of maintenance funds which have failed to keep pace.

Grants should be introduced for students who can’t rely on surplus household income, while the amount of loans available should be restored to the level needed to cover basic living costs and then index-linked with inflation.

The same maintenance funding should be extended to students who learn online, as the age of campus-based education being the only delivery model has passed.

Adults who currently receive Universal Credit should be encouraged to upskill via the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) without losing their benefits.

4. Adopt a national strategy to support every student with their mental health and wellbeing

A mental health crisis has gripped the country since Covid-19, exacerbating pressures on health services and manifesting strongly not just in young people but in mature students too.

Independent providers are on the front line, admitting more students with disabilities, mental health issues and neurodivergence who value the immersive learning environments, smaller settings and flexibility of approach.

The new national strategy should recognise and address the diverse needs of different groups of students, including mature, part-time, international, online and work-based learners. It should create a framework for supporting transitions into and through tertiary education, and fund a national collaborative project for all students to access services, advice and information on a regional basis.

The Engineering & Design Institute London (TEDI-London)

TEDI-London opened its doors in 2021, introducing a new model of engineering education designed to appeal to a more diverse cohort of students. Their first cohort was 50% women, unheard of in a traditional university engineering degree. They achieve this diversity through an innovative, industry-informed and project-based curriculum, replacing lectures with live industry projects and individualised support, a flexible approach made possible by their own New Degree Awarding Powers.

TEDI was formed by three global university founders, King’s College London, Arizona State University and the University of New South Wales, who sought to create a more inclusive and adaptable engineering programme delivered through industry and community projects.

They tackle some of the biggest problems of our time, through a real-world lens, such as the UN’s sustainable development goals. Students are recruited from different educational backgrounds, as TEDI has no fixed subject requirements for entry. It’s about more than technical brilliance, it’s a combination of Attitude, Aptitude and Ability. Maths refresher courses are offered to those who have not studied it at a high level before. TEDI recruits students for their potential, not their past.

TEDI-London may be new but they are already having an impact by offering different approaches to supporting students and increasing diversity in one of the UK’s most exclusive subjects.