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UCU reaction to latest UCAS figures

25 April 2007

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Responding to university application figures released today by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), UCU warned government and universities not to use them as evidence that they have succeeded in widening participation.

The figures showed an overall increase of 5.2% in people applying to full-time undergraduate courses at UK higher education institutions compared with the end of March last year. However, they showed a tiny increase of just 0.3% in the low socio-economic groups (groups 4-7).

UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Any increase in students applying to universities is to be welcomed. However, it is disappointing to see such a minimal increase in applications from students from the lowest socio-economic groups, especially when one considers the money and effort that has been expended on attempting to widen participation.

'I will be very disappointed if politicians or universities try to use these figures to suggest they are doing, or have done, enough to attract students from the poorest backgrounds. The idea that increasing debt makes university a more attractive proposition has never made any sense to me and an urgent policy rethink is required if we are serious about truly opening up university education.'
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