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From chavs to graduates – UK admissions system to be reformed?

In order to widen access to higher education, the UK Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham suggests that universities should adopt transparent admissions systems. Referring to the media debate about admissions and if the prospective students’ social background should be taken into account during the process, he claims that the debate will ultimately lead to public mistrust of the current admissions system. Denham believes that openness and transparency in university admissions is the only way to avoid the feeling of being disadvantaged, both among applicants with a privileged background as well as those with a more challenged one. He wants to fight against the view that regardless of the child’s background he or she “is going to lose out no matter what.” 

The Secretary of State’s also announced further measures to get more young people participating in higher education. The UK Government’s official goal is to have 50 percent participation rate in the age group of 15-30. This is to be achieved by improving information and guidance to students already at an early age; getting universities to work more closely with schools and by finding ways to support part-time study.

The attitudes of the school staff have room for improvement, too: in a survey commissioned by the Sutton Trust, nine out of 10 teachers underestimated the number of state school students enrolled in Oxford and Cambridge.  

UK Government, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
The Sutton Trust