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Blame game no help to disadvantaged students aiming for university

24 July 2014

Commenting on a new report looking at widening participation in higher education released today, UCU said there was much more to do if colleges and universities are serious about changing the social make-up of their campuses.

The union added there was nothing to be gained by blaming others for the limited numbers of students from the poorest backgrounds studying at university.  
UCU said there needed to be a concerted effort from government and the whole education sector to encourage students from the poorest backgrounds to strive for university from a young age, be encouraged throughout their education and helped to achieve that goal when finishing school.
The report, from the university regulator OFFA, details the steps taken by colleges and universities to attract more disadvantaged students. Nine institutions had agreements approved despite offering no financial support to students while they study. UCU called for a national bursary scheme to simplify financial support for students.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'OFFA may have pushed colleges and universities to stretch their targets but the statistics tell us there is much more to do. Where someone lives and their family background still has far too much bearing on whether they succeed into higher education.
'There is nothing to be gained by engaging in any sort of blame game for why so many talented young people miss out on higher education. We need the whole education sector and government working together to help students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds succeed at university.
'It is a worry that nine institutions have chosen to offer no financial support to students while they study. The fact that students receive such different levels of support at different institutions adds weight to our call for a national bursary scheme.'
Last updated: 10 December 2015