Further Education: Low Incomes

Department for Education written question – answered on 15 September 2023.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to make tertiary education more accessible to students from low-income families.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

As at Results Day 2023, an English 18-year-old from a disadvantaged background is 73% more likely to go to university than at the same point in 2010. This year, 22,540 English 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds secured a university place on Results Day, compared to 18,960 at the same point in 2019.

In November 2021, the department issued guidance to the Office for Students (OfS), asking it to refocus the access and participation regime to create a system that better supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access and succeed in higher education (HE). As a result, all approved (fee cap) providers who are intending to charge fees above the basic amount, are required to fully rewrite their Access and Participation plans to be in place for September 2025.

This work aims to drive up standards in education and focus on genuine social justice by making getting on at university as important as getting in.

We want to see universities working with schools to drive up standards and encourage aspiration and attainment, supporting students through paths that benefit them the most, including traditional undergraduate degrees, but also apprenticeships and higher technical qualifications.

The department has provided Uni Connect with £30 million funding for 2023/24, to bring together partnerships of universities, colleges and other local partners to offer activities, advice and information on the benefits and realities of going to university or college, broadening the horizons of students in areas of low HE progression.

In March 2023, the OfS launched its Equality of Opportunity Risk Register (EORR). This will empower providers to deliver interventions for groups of students least likely to experience equal opportunity in HE settings by highlighting 12 key sector risks and the groups most likely to experience these. The department welcomes the EORR as a key marker for social justice that will help ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds continue to be supported once they have started their chosen course.

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