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Universities: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN 108883, tabled on 20 October 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to improve access to (a) Oxford University and (b) Cambridge University for (i) black students and (ii) students from low socio-economic backgrounds from (A) the North West and (B) Blackpool.

Answered on

30 October 2017

The Government is determined to build a country that works for everyone – and that means ensuring that every child has a good or outstanding school place. We know that improving schools will help more young people progress on to higher education including at the most selective institutions.

We expect all universities, particularly the most selective, to help raise attainment and support school improvement, including through school sponsorship and by establishing new state schools.

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering at record rates to the most selective universities. There are also record entry rates across all ethnic groups.

But we recognise there is more still to do. That is why our guidance to the Director of Fair Access (DfA), in February 2016, asked for the most selective institutions to make faster progress on widening access, and in particular to focus their outreach.

The DfA has agreed access agreements for 2018/19 with plans for universities to spend more than £860 million on measures to continue to improving access and student success for students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds, up significantly from £404 million in 2009.

We are introducing sweeping reforms through legislation. The Higher Education and Research Act, includes a transparency duty requiring all universities to publish applications, offers and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and social economic background. This will help to hold them to account for their performance on access and retention.

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