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Taking action in higher education

UCU responds to university applications figures

14 February 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU today said changes in the way university applications are counted must not be used to mask little progress being made in applications from students from lower socio-economic groups.

Commenting on the latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the union said any increase in applicants was to be welcomed, but the lack of increase from the poorest students meant the current system was not working.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We welcome the overall increase in applicants to university, except, of course, the worrying decrease in Northern Ireland. However, the very small increase, if any, in widening participation remains a matter of concern. The way full-time undergraduate applications are counted has been changed this year and that must not be used to mask the lack of progress being made in attracting students from the poorest backgrounds to apply to university.

'Earlier this week, Bill Rammell, talked about the need to do more to encourage students from non-traditional backgrounds to apply to universities. We welcome those comments, but still feel that the punitive funding regime is the main barrier to participation. Ministers need to acknowledge this, especially ahead of next year's review of higher education funding and the likely lobby for increased tuition fees.'

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