To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, pursuant to the Answer of 29 October 2015 to Question 12715, what steps his Department plans to take to increase the number of (a) pupils from state-funded schools and (b) pupils from state-funded schools who receive free school meals who enter higher education.
We have already taken significant steps to widen participation in higher education. In particular, from 2015/16, we have removed the cap on student numbers, enabling more people than ever before to benefit from higher education. We have also established a stronger framework with increased responsibility placed on providers to widen access. The Director of Fair Access has agreed 183 Access Agreements for 2016/17 containing an estimated £745m to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds – up from £404m in 2009/10.
The Green Paper Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice, CM 9141 sets out additional steps the Government plans to take to increase the proportion of students from disadvantaged background entering higher education including through the new guidance that we plan to issue to the Director of Fair Access, and through the social mobility taskforce being set up by Universities UK.