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Taking action in higher education

Access to degrees needed to widen participation, says UCU

29 November 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

UCU said today that for widening participation to really succeed potential students must have access to the courses they want to study and not be stopped, or put off, studying by huge debts.

Commenting on today's launch of a widening participation review from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Access to university must be available to all students who will benefit. UCU fully backs the widening participation and Outreach schemes that universities run. Our members already do great work in the local communities extolling the life changing impact of higher education.

'We have major concerns that many students from non-traditional backgrounds are denied access to the courses they want to study because of a lack of local provision or a fear of debt. Our recent report revealed that 10 per cent of pure science courses have been axed in the last decade and in some areas of the country there is just one institution offering one of the science disciplines. We are also concerned about the reduction in availability of access courses where further education colleges provide a route into higher education.

'The increasing cost of studying at university has led to more students opting to study closer to home to save money. We cannot allow a system where students feel they have to restrict their choice of degree because the course they want to study is no longer available.

'It is clearly in the best interests of the universities, the students and the country to have our brightest students applying to the courses that best suit their individual talents.'