The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) has today announced it has approved 2012-13 Access Agreements for 139 institutions - 123 higher education institutions and 16 further education colleges.
It also announced that English universities and colleges charging above £6,000 for their courses plan to boost their spending on access measures to £602 million a year by 2015-16, up from £407 million in 2011-12.
This figure rises to £738 million a year when the Government’s contribution to the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) is included.
Read OFFA’s announcement in full.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“The Government is determined that no-one with the ambition and ability, whatever their background, should face barriers to accessing higher education.
“Progress over the past few years in securing fair access to the most selective universities has been inadequate. Only around 40 pupils out of the 80,000 on free school meals currently make it to Oxbridge at the moment.
“The government therefore tasked OFFA with setting more demanding tests than in previous years. We are satisfied that universities and colleges are showing their determination to improve. Indeed, by 2015, we expect the sector’s investment in access to be more than £600m.
“We will be monitoring performance on fair access closely every year to ensure we see tangible progress in opening the doors of our universities to the most disadvantaged.”
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts went on to say:
“We told universities to be much more ambitious with their plans for attracting people from low income backgrounds in exchange for charging students more. This will result in a step change in social mobility with university investment in programmes such as summer schools, scholarships and fee waivers reaching more than £600 million annually by 2015.
“The majority of students will not be paying £9,000. No one should be put off going to university for financial reasons. No first time undergraduate will have to pay up front costs and there is a very generous package of financial support. Graduates will make lower monthly repayments than they do now.”