Russell Group university outreach programmes flounder as half admit fewer state school students than previous year

Durham, Exeter, Edinburgh, Warwick and Birmingham universities are among those where the proportion of state educated pupils has fallen, according to data published by Higher Education Statistical Agency (Hesa). The Telegraph reports.

Last year Russell Group universities spent £254 million on “outreach” activities, aimed at encouraging more students from disadvantaged background to apply, with a further £270 million due to be spent in the year ahead.

Initiatives include bursaries, extra tutoring and support, and giving lower offers to those coming from state schools. Professor John Jerrim, an expert in social statistics at University College London’s Institute of Education, said the figures show that “very little progress is actually being made” despite millions being invested by Russell Group universities into outreach schemes.

Prof Jerrim said that some of the top universities can “hide” from the issue by saying: “We are just taking the best people with the strongest qualifications”.

He added: “The key thing is for them to start evaluating – to actually work out the stuff they are running and see if it’s working. At the moment frankly they don’t have a clue.”

For the second year running, Oxford admitted the lowest proportion of state school students out of all non-specialist universities.

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said “We want universities to understand how they are performing using sophisticated measures, looking across different characteristics to understand disadvantage in their own context and targeting their activity and investment so that it really works.” 

Read more Russell Group university outreach programmes flounder as half admit fewer state school students than previous year

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