Elite universities are not instinctively biased against disadvantaged children but must do more to improve access, according to the Education Secretary. ITV reports.
Damian Hinds said there was a “very legitimate public interest” to ensure attempts to encourage children to attend the top higher education institutions reach “deep into the country” and to every group.
He added that university is key to determining future success and suggested there was “encouraging progress” on social mobility due to increased numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds attending them.
The Office for Students has been asked to identify the best approaches for getting children from different backgrounds into university – including the most selective.
Mr Hinds also said more needs to be done at schools in light of data which shows private schools were responsible for 7% of the school population but 40% of those who went to Oxbridge universities in 2016/17. He added private schools represent 14% of everyone doing A-levels and 25% of students getting three or more As.
His remarks came as he delivered his first major speech on social mobility during a Resolution Foundation event in London.
Mr Hinds also highlighted regional variations in England, noting one in five disadvantaged pupils from London go to a top third university compared to one in 17 from the North East.
Pressed later by reporters, Mr Hinds said: “Do I think that elite universities are biased against disadvantaged children? No, I don’t think instinctively they are – I think they want people to be able to benefit from what they have to offer.
“But I think we need to go further, they need to go further. There’s a lot of money being spent on these access programmes and so on and there’s a very legitimate public interest in making sure that absolutely reaches out as deep into the country and to every group as it can.”
Read the full article Hinds: Top universities must do more to ensure disadvantaged children attend
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