University support for poorer school leavers must not ‘stop at the front door’

The TES is reporting comments from the access to higher education watchdog that universities and colleges must do more to support students from poor backgrounds throughout their studies and not just focus on broadening their intake…

In its annual report, the Office for Fair Access to Higher Education (Offa) said that universities need to work harder with schools and the wider community to ensure disadvantaged students have the necessary support not only to choose university, but also to succeed once there.

Writing in the report’s foreword, Professor Les Ebdon, Offa’s director, said that the assistance provided by universities must be continued through a student’s university or college career if fairer access is to be “meaningful”.

“An effective approach to access should not stop at the front door when a person enters higher education,” Professor Ebdon said.

“Disadvantage can follow you like a shadow down the years, affecting the degree you end up with and your ensuing postgraduate study or search for a job. For access to be meaningful, there must be appropriate support for students as they progress through their studies and continue to employment or postgraduate study.”

…Offa highlighted initiatives undertaken by institutions such as Nottingham Trent University, which has an outreach programme from primary school onwards. The programme provides advice and guidance to young people all the way through to university to ensure that poorer students do not choose the wrong course and drop out.

The report also underlined the importance of promoting fairer access and universities broadening their intakes, stating that it benefits society as a whole…

More at: University support for poorer school leavers must not ‘stop at the front door’

See also: Access tsar: admit university students based on ‘potential’

Do you agree with Professor Ebdon that the tendency for universities may be to focus on ensuring better access for those from disadvantaged backgrounds without realising that they are likely to face unique difficulties beyond this? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. KMPF_partners

    SchoolsImprove Important issue. Unis in the main probably do recognise it’s an issue, but maybe just don’t know how best to address it.

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