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Universities: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN 39931, tabled on 19 July 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the number of university applicants from deprived areas.

Answered on

27 July 2022

Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access a world-class education remains a top priority and the department expects universities to do all they can to support disadvantaged students. Record numbers of high achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds progressed into higher education (HE) last year and we want this progress to continue.

While there has been a strong focus on ensuring more disadvantaged students get into HE, there has not always been as much consideration of the value of the courses they are admitted to.

We want to ensure that courses are of genuinely high quality, with support for students to both complete their studies and develop the skills and knowledge that will lead to rewarding graduate employment or further study.

In November 2021, we tasked the Office for Students (OfS) with creating an access and participation regime that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by ensuring they are equipped to make informed choices and are able to access and succeed on high-quality courses which lead to good graduate employment. We have appointed John Blake as Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS and he is playing a pivotal role in driving this work forward.

We have recently consulted on the design of a new National State Scholarship, worth up to £75 million, which will help the highest achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome barriers to attending and succeeding on the HE course that is right for them.