Universities told to raise numbers of working-class and black students

The Guardian is reporting that the government has imposed new rules on universities to work more closely with schools in poorer areas, targeting white working-class boys in particular in a bid to get them into higher education.

Following the prime minister’s ferocious criticism of levels of inclusion and diversity in universities, the government has issued fresh guidance to the Office for Fair Access (Offa) demanding that universities do more to boost social mobility and raise aspirations among disadvantaged groups.

As well as targeting disadvantaged white boys, who are five times less likely to go to university than those from the most advantaged backgrounds, universities are being asked to reduce high drop-out rates among black students, who are 50% more likely to quit their studies than their peers.

The government has also written into the guidance for the first time that students with learning difficulties – such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s syndrome and attention-deficit disorders – should be prioritised and treated as a target group.

Making the announcement, the universities minister, Jo Johnson, called for “smarter spending” by universities, and urged them to develop “deeper partnerships” with schools in disadvantaged areas…

The new guidance, published on Thursday… is the first new guidance on fair access for five years and follows a meeting of university leaders at Downing Street last week aimed at breaking down the barriers preventing young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university…

Professor Les Ebdon, Offa’s director, said: “I am very pleased to receive this latest guidance, and look forward to working with ministers and the whole higher education sector as we strive we achieve the prime minister’s fair access goals.

“I will be expecting to see an increase in outreach work, with universities working to raise aspirations and attainment among people from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that nobody with the potential to benefit from higher education feels that their background holds back their ambition.”…

More at Universities told to raise numbers of working-class and black students


See more from BIS and OFFA at: Universities told to reach out to students from poorest neighbourhoods under new guidance


Read or download the new guidance in full at:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/11-02-2016-OFFA-Guidance.pdf”]


How significant do you think this new guidance is, and what impact do you think it is likely to have?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. SunnyB

    Haven’t the government just cut the maintenance grant from September 2016 which was introduced to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds?! Encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds to take on £50,000+ debt to earn a degree which is becoming worthless because some many now have one is blind. Once you have a degree and join the scramble for graduate jobs/internships, students without ‘social capital’ or daddy’s contacts find themselves at a distinct disadvantage once again. These students need a bit more than ‘encouragement’ into further education. They need a level playing field once they achieve the degree and the cost of a degree should have a more realistic price tag. Bring back maintenance grants!

  2. LiterateCynic

    SchoolsImprove Oh, DO stop blaming universities! They want best students – govt. needs to enable state secondaries to step up to the mark!

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