The Russell Group has warned that the Office For Students’ (OfS) long-term plan would lead to students without qualifications entering the most prestigious higher education institutions.
In a recently published report, ‘Pathways for Power’, the Russell Group finds that the OfS’ targets for the next 20 years would require entry figures from the least advantaged to rise by 620%. By 2035, this would entail accepting any student from the most disadvantaged backgrounds regardless of whether they have academic qualifications. At the same time, a cap would be placed on entry numbers from the most advantaged areas. The Russell Group argues that without a national strategy across the entire education system, these targets will not be met.
The Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, Chris Millward, approves of the Russell Group’s proposals to better identify which individual students are disadvantaged. If the National Pupil Database is made more accessible for universities, this would allow them to reach out to those from under-represented backgrounds. Millward adds that:
There has been clear progress in opening up opportunities to study at the most selective universities, but where you come from continues significantly to determine where you end up. There is still a long way to go before these opportunities are genuinely available across all parts of the country
Meanwhile, the Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan, has stated that:
[It is] more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that anyone who wants to, whatever their background or wherever they come from, is given the chance to go to university