Letter: Student dropouts

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The major factor in all this is the dismantling of the grants system. I am surprised that anyone is surprised at these figures. It really won't do to scapegoat the universities.

These are largely the old polytechnics, whose student population is largely made up of English students who live locally, overseas students and a sprinkling of mature students.

Mature students often find it extremely hard to fund their student years, as most have financial commitments. Many give up the struggle.

Local students are often from deprived backgrounds or are the first person from their families to attend university. These are the students whose commitment to three years of study is the shakiest from the outset. This is not to say that they go into it lightly, merely that if serious problems come their way they are more likely to throw in the towel than students from families where the university-going tradition is already firmly established, families who are usually more ready to bankroll their offspring through higher education.

The Government claims to want to increase the number of working-class students attending university while at the same time virtually dismantling the old grants system. It is fine to will the ends, but you must also will the means.

ANDREW TURNER

Dudley, West Midlands

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