To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the extent to which sharing data on additional indicators of an applicant’s disadvantage and under-representation in higher education, including pupil premium status, free school meals eligibility and ethnicity can enable universities to make further progress on widening access and participation in higher education.
21 May 2019
Widening access and participation in higher education is a priority for this government. This means that everyone with the capability to succeed in higher education should have the opportunity to participate, regardless of their background or where they grew up.
We have made real progress in ensuring universities are open to all, with record rates of disadvantaged 18 year olds in higher education. However, we know that more needs to be done to maximise the potential of the talent of future applicants to higher education courses, so it is vital that we build on this progress.
Higher education providers need to use good quality and meaningful data to identify disadvantage in order to effectively address disparities in access and participation in higher education. We encourage institutions to use a range of measures to identify disadvantage, including individual-level indicators, area data (such as POLAR, Index of Multiple Deprivation or ACORN), school data, intersectional data such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service's (UCAS) multiple equality measure and participation in outreach activities.
To this end, we are working with the Office for Students, UCAS and sector representatives to further explore how we can support universities to improve and enhance access to data.
We want institutions to consider a broad range of information in their offers, including the context in which a student’s results were achieved. We are committed to helping universities progress in their efforts to improve access and successful participation for under-represented groups.