Higher Education: Admissions

Department for Education written question – answered on 27th April 2017.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the effect of the reduction in the student opportunity allocation announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England on 15 March 2017 on the Government's target for widening participation in higher education.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Following the reforms to the funding system in 2012, real progress continues to be made in widening participation in higher education. The proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going into higher education has risen from 13.6% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2016.

As a result of the funding changes and the increased income available to universities, with universities forecasting income growth of £2.3bn by 2020 from their planned expansion of student places, there is an expectation that HE providers should take more responsibility for widening participation.

Through access agreements universities expect to spend £833.5 million in 2017/18 on measures to improve access and success for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is up significantly from £404 million in 2009.

Subject to the passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill we are further strengthening our approach to widening participation by:

o Establishing the Office for Students (OfS), which will have a statutory duty to consider the promotion of equality of opportunity in relation to access and participation. o Introducing a Transparency Duty requiring providers to publish application, offer, drop-out and attainment rates of students broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background. o Ensuring that activities aimed at student retention success and progression in are included in within Access and Participation Agreements. o Enabling the provision of alternative student finance consistent with the principles of Islamic finance.

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