UPP reacts to OfS Review: ‘The rise and rise of digital in a time of COVID-19’


In his foreword to the Office for Students’ Annual Review ‘English Higher Education 2020’, published yesterday, Sir Michael Barber identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has seen digital teaching and learning assert its place in the blend of university delivery. Some universities, he notes, have made more progress in a month, than in the previous five years.

Jon Wakeford, Group Corporate Affairs Director at UPP and Chair of the UPP Foundation, said: “Whilst UCAS applicant data for the 2020 cycle recognises that the traditional on-campus model is proving more popular than ever, it also underlines the growing importance of digital pedagogy in a range of physical settings including residential. 

“Innovating to facilitate what is likely to prove an enduring rebalancing, must be at the heart of the business strategies of those, such as UPP, seeking to develop new generation campuses.”

In addition to the rise of digital teaching and learning, Sir Michael highlighted the need to ensure equity in participation as a major challenge faced by UK higher education, through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jon continued: “We believe that everyone with the potential and ambition to go to and succeed at university should have the ability to do so, regardless of background, family income or disability. 

“However, there are still too many barriers to access for underrepresented groups and too many challenges to overcome once there for students who face problems, such as health issues or financial difficulties.

“Access and retention is a major theme championed by the UPP Foundation, which actively supports projects which raise aspiration amongst students from disadvantaged and low-participating backgrounds and backs schemes that mitigate against challenges that prevent students from completing their studies.”