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Universities: Admissions

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of The Bishop of Winchester The Bishop of Winchester Bishop

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the Office for Students is taking to encourage universities to use unconditional and other alternative offers to widen participation by minority groups including those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

​Widening participation is a priority for this government. We want to ensure that everyone with the potential to benefit from a university education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their background or where they grew up. Significant progress has been made in recent years; in 2018, 18-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds were 52% more likely to enter full-time higher education than in 2009.

However, we have made clear our expectation that the Office for Students (OfS) will challenge universities to make greater progress in widening access and participation.

For example, we have asked the OfS to explore further the use of contextual information in university admissions, such as whether an applicant comes from a low participation neighbourhood or attends a school that does not send many students to university.

​We expect universities to use unconditional offers responsibly. There are cases where the use of unconditional offers can be justified, however the systematic use of unconditional offers is not in the interest of students.

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