Universities still missing state school admission targets

 

Britain's leading universities are still failing to attract enough state school pupils and students from disadvantaged homes, according to figures published today.

Only five out of the 24 universities belonging to the Russell Group - which represents most of the country’s leading research institutions – have met benchmarks set for the recruitment of disadvantaged students.

On the recruitment of state school pupils in general, the picture is little better with just eight meeting their target figure.

The university with the worst record of recruiting less well-off students is Oxford with just 9.9 per cent of its intake coming from poorer homes compared with a benchmark of 15.7 per cent.

The data also suggests that the proportion of state school,students admitted to many Russell Group universities had fallen in the past year.

Overall, two out of five universities in the UK are still admitting fewer state school pupils than expected, and around half are failing to recruit enough students from poorer backgrounds.

Universities could be risking more severe consequences as a result of their failure to recruit from september.

Professor Les Ebdon, who has controversially been appointed as head of the Office for Fair Access, warned on being recommended for the post that he would be prepared to use the “nuclear option” of forcing universities to slash their fees if they did not improve access.

Under the new fees arrangements, all universities who want to charge more than £6,000 a year have to sign an agreement with OFFA pledging action to recruit students from disadvantaged groups.

Professor Ebdon, vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University, said of his appointment: “I am passionate about access to higher education and strongly believe no-one should be put off from going to university because of their family background or income.”

Overall, though, the figures show efforts to widen participation nationally from disadvantaged groups has improved – and that the overall drop-out rate has fallen.  However, amongst first-yeast students, it has risen from 6.5 per cent to 7.2 per cent. The university of the West of Scotland has the highest drop-out rate with 23.2 per cent.In England, the university with the biggest drop-out rate is Bolton - where just over one in five students  (21.4 per cent) quit their courses. Others with high drop-out rates include London Metropolitan (17.6 per cent), the University of West London (17.9 per cent)

In all, 88.7 per cent of new recruits to universities have come from state schools and 30.6 per cent were from poorer homes.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Sadly, today’s figures show that too many students. particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are still failing to complete their studies.”

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think-tank million+, added: “These figures underline that it is modern universities  which do all the heavy lifting when it comes to providing opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds to access higher education.”

Dr Wendy Piatt,  director general of the Russell Group, said: “We can only admit  those students who apply and have the right grades in the right subjects.”

She added:  “Every year we pump millions into our outreach work such as summer schools and access schemes to encourage poorer students to apply and attend our universities.”

The figures are published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea