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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2010): Education - UK - higher

What more can be done to widen access to highly selective universities?

Office for Fair Access


This report urges leading universities to increase their efforts to admit pupils from poor backgrounds. Institutions should consider making lower grade offers to pupils from poor-performing schools, publish new admissions targets, and channel more cash towards free and subsidised places. The report also recommends that:

  1. universities should stage more summer schools targeted on bright pupils from state schools
  2. data on how well universities meet entry targets should be published
  3. academics should advise pupils at age 14 about GCSE subjects needed to get onto particular degree courses.

However the report admits that the single most important factor stopping many poor students from attending elite universities is their relatively low examination grades.

Changes to student loans system mooted

A. Kershaw

The Independent, May 14th 2010, p. 13

Graduates could be made to pay back their loans earlier and at a higher interest rate. According to the Russell Group, which represents the UK's 20 leading universities, higher education is facing a deficit that could reach 1.1bn and action must be taken to introduce more investment into the system. In their submission to Lord Browne's independent review of the student funding system, the group warned that the financial sustainability of its universities is 'severely at risk'. (See also The Guardian, May 18th 2010, p.10; Daily Telegraph, May 14th 2010, p. 2; Daily Telegraph, May 18th 2010, p. 1)

Recession-hit graduates queue to go back to university

G. Hurst

The Times, May 18th 2010, p.14

The number of people applying to study at postgraduate level at Oxford has overtaken applications for undergraduate degree courses for the first time. The demand for postgraduate degrees such as Master's degrees and PhDs has seemingly risen as a response to the recession and poor labour-market prospects for graduates.

Sixth of students regret going to university

R. Garner

The Independent, May 27th 2010, p. 24

A survey by the graduate recruitment company High Fliers Research has found that one in six students would have reconsidered going to university if they had known how difficult it would be to secure a job once they graduated. The survey of 16,000 students in the final year of their degree course also found that just 36 per cent were likely to find a graduate job once their course was completed.

Students hit hard by cut in university places

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, May 25th 2010, p. 4

The initial 6.2bn cut in public spending announced by the Lib. Dem-Conservative coalition government included a 200m cut in the higher education budget. In April 2010, the Labour government promised to fund 20,000 extra university places for the Autumn. The coalition government has now cut this to 10,000, drawing angry protests from lecturers and students. While higher education has been cut, spending on schools, Sure Start centres and education for 16 to 19-year-olds has been shielded. Grants to local government have been cut by 1.16bn, including a cut of 311m for education services like school transport.

University cash gifts top 500 m

J. Sugden

The Times, May 26th 2010, p.21

Despite an overall decline in charitable giving during the recession, cash donations to British universities have risen above 500 million. Many university vice-chancellors see philanthropic donations as central to their institutions' development.

University chiefs out of line on pay, says Cable

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, May 27th 2010, p. 1 + 2

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, argues that university senior staff pay is too high and institutions must show restraint. University heads were paid an average of 219,000 in 2009 as salaries and benefits rose by almost 11%. University leaders have defended the pay rises, insisting that salaries are comparable to those in the private sector.

(See also Daily Telegraph, May 28th 2010, p. 6)

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