Access to University

The Labour Government spent hundreds of millions on trying to widen access to universities and established a new body to check universities’ progress on this important issue. So it’s outrageous that the number of young people on free school meals getting into Oxford or Cambridge in a year could all get a seat in a Metrolink tram carriage.
Under Labour, OFFA failed to get the more selective universities to open their doors wider. So I am calling on the Office for Fair Access to go further and not leave it to universities to decide how much work they do in our schools to encourage more promising but disadvantaged people to apply.
With fees going up to at least £6,000 after ministers followed the recommendations of Labour’s Browne Review, we need tough action to break down the barriers that are stopping so many of our young from going to a top university.
The Russell Group of prestigious universities is wrong to say that progress has been poor because the disadvantaged often do not get good enough grades. Yes, schools must do more to ensure that no child is left behind early on – something the new Pupil Premium will help tackle. But many pupils from low-income backgrounds already get the necessary grades for the elite universities but are not going.
If just a handful of top universities upped their game and attracted these good candidates, it would make a huge difference. If York, Durham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Warwick attracted the same proportion of students on free school meals getting the best possible grades, over 500 more disadvantaged young people would get the chance to better their lot.
We cannot let universities like these off the hook by not giving real teeth to the enforcement of their agreements on improving access. If they fail to widen access, they should be fined. All the money should be used to expand the Government’s new and welcome National Scholarship Programme.

5 responses to “Access to University

  1. Fact: an increase in tuition fees to up to £9,000 pa will not improve access to univeersity. Not for anyone, let alone those on school dinners.

    Fact: you puport to agree with the above.

    So grow up, show some steel and stick to the real headlines on education.

  2. 80% funding cut to the teaching grant. EMA? Two clues there as to why it will be harder for working-class kids to go to college.

  3. You and your colleagues have overseen the wholesale destruction of one of the most widely respected education systems in the world.
    Todays anouncements encouraging private colleges with unlimited fees are the final nail in the coffin.

    The LibDem’s are an absolute disgrace to the term ‘Liberal’. How the hell do you sleep at night?

    • Dear Simon

      Thank you for emailing John regarding your concerns about the education system. I would be grateful if you could advise on your address so that we can ensure that you are a constituent.

      (Lead Caseworker to John Leech MP)

      8 Gawsworth Avenue
      East Didsbury
      M20 5NF

      Tel. No: 0161 434 3334
      Fax. 0161 434 3206

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