Elite universities 'as socially exclusive as ever'
Outgoing higher education policy director claims UK universities have made little progress in a decade
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 26 November 2013
Britain’s elite universities are “just as socially exclusive as ever”, according to the outgoing head of one of the UK’s most highly respected think-tanks.
Figures show that - despite a major increase in students from disadvantaged backgrounds opting for university - the numbers obtaining places at leading Russell Group universities has actually fallen by, one percentage point since 2002.
Bahram Bekhradnia, the director general of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said in a farewell lecture tonight: “Unfortunately, here, there is little if any progress to report.
“The recent increases in participation by students from poor backgrounds - up 40 per cent in six years - have almost entirely been to the less prestigious universities.”
The Russell Group, which represents 24 of the country’s most elite research-driven higher education institutions, has always maintained the problem lies with the qualifications of students from poor backgrounds. They claim that too many of them just do not opt for the academic subjects that are likely to win them a place at a top university.
“Posh students go to posh universities because they do better at school and less posh students to less posh universities because they do less well at school,” said Dr Bekhradnia.
The social gap, he said, was illustrated at a rugby match between Manchester University students (posh) when they turned en masse to face their opponents from Manchester Metropolitan University (not posh) and chanted “Your dad works for my dad". Manchester University lost.
He said the differences between social groups was “a major disparity” in the UK’s claim to have a world-class university system.
On fees, he added that the present loans system was “philosophically, economically and socially untenable”. Non-repayment of loans could be as high as 40 per cent.
The only possible solutions were a rise in fees from £9,000 a year, a cut in student numbers or cuts to other parts of the higher education budget - such as research.
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...
£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...
£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...
£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...