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Universities: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL7367, tabled on 25 March 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the advantages afforded to university applicants with at least one family member who has attended university; and whether university application forms should ask whether applicants are first-generation applicants.

Answered on

6 April 2022

Access to higher education (HE) should be based on a student’s attainment and their ability to succeed, rather than background. The Office for Students encourages Higher Education Providers (HEPs) to consider a range of characteristics that might prevent individuals from accessing or succeeding in HE within their access and participation plans. This may include ‘first in family’ status, which some research suggests is associated certain forms of socio-economic disadvantage, such as being from a low-income household and being eligible for free school meals.

It should be noted that HEPs are autonomous and independent from government and are therefore responsible for their own admissions decisions. It is important that the admissions system for HE is underpinned by a commitment to fairness, quality of learning and teaching, and places student interests at its core. We will continue to work with UCAS and sector bodies to tackle problems at their root, improving transparency, reducing the use of unconditional offers, and improving the personal statement to underpin fairness for applicants of all backgrounds.