Leading Article: Universities are the key to social mobility

Click to follow

The former Health Secretary Alan Milburn is right to be concerned at the pitiful numbers of children from deprived backgrounds winning places at university. His report into social mobility is full of bold ideas – vouchers for poor children to attend popular schools, making private schools share their facilities with poor children, giving greater preference to poorer applicants – but some of these ideas will need careful thought. In particular, that of waiving fees for university students who stay at home could be a breach of the Human Rights Act, as Geraldine Van Beuren writes on this page. Have government ministers taken legal advise on this proposal? If not, they should.

Many of the ideas are controversial and will annoy one vested interest or another, so will be unlikely to see the light of day. Vouchers, for example, are disliked by many in the Labour Party. But Milburn's emphasis on education in general and universities in particular as the key to social mobility is correct.