The government followed up on the announcement by issuing a guidance to the Office for Fair Access, a public body safeguarding and promoting fair access to higher education. The guidance outlines the government’s priorities for widening access for disadvantages students. All higher education institutions charging tuition fees above the basic amount of EUR 7 640 (GBP 6 000) will be required to have an access agreement in place, specifying benchmarks on measures to improve access, student success and progression for disadvantaged students. The Office for Fair Access will monitor and publish the universities’ progress on these benchmarks to encourage compliance.
In a separate but related development, on 14 January the Conservative government voted to eliminate maintenance grants
, which were non-repayable grants of up to EUR 4 330 (GBP 3 387) per year for half a million of the most disadvantaged students. Under the changes, low-income students will be instead forced to take out additional loans to cover their living expenses. Yet, the Prime Minister’s goals for access to higher education
include doubling the proportion of university entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds by the end of his term from 2009 levels and increasing the number of black and minority ethnic students attending university by 20% by 2020. How the Prime Minister’s government intends to achieve these goals through solely regulating the disclosure of admissions data without providing crucial financial assistance to disadvantaged students remains unclear.
Prime Minister’s Office
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills