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More pressure for universities to widen access, says UCU

13 August 2014

Commenting on a new report from the Independent Commission on Fees, UCU today called for more pressure on universities to increase social mobility.

The report found that in 2013 students from the most advantaged areas were 9.5 times more likely to take up a place at the 13 most selective universities, than those from the most disadvantaged areas. Across all universities, students not eligible for Free School Meals are twice as likely to apply for university.

By 2014, the number of English residents aged 25 and over applying to university had dropped 11% below their 2010 levels, while there has been a 41% reduction in part-time enrolments to higher education between 2009/10 and 2012/13. Disadvantaged boys are also particularly under-represented in applications and enrolments.

Polling for the commission also found that 53% of adults supported the idea of students from lower income families being charged a lower tuition fee than other students.

UCU head of higher education, Paul Bridge, said: 'This report provides yet more evidence that in the era of increased university tuition fees, a person's background, income, age and gender are very much key determinants of their higher education prospects.

'Since the introduction of £9,000 fees, we have seen a substantial drop in mature applicants, and the collapse of part-time entry, which has had a disastrous impact on widening participation and social mobility.
'We believe stronger demands must be made on universities, particularly those that are most selective, to diversify their intake. We need to see more pressure on universities to contribute to social mobility.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015