The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) welcomes Alan Milburn’s report Fair Access to Professional Careers: A progress report, published today. Sir Martin Harris, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, commented:
“I am glad that Alan Milburn’s report makes the connection between fair access to higher education and fair access to the professions, as OFFA does.
“Enabling universities and colleges to choose students from the widest possible pool drives up the quality of those admitted. This then provides the professions with the brightest and best possible graduates – well-educated, highly motivated people with a rich range of life skills and experiences.
“The access agreements that universities and colleges agree with OFFA help achieve this goal because they set out their plans to improve access to higher education.
“But if they wish, they may also include measures designed to improve access to professions where social mobility is low. Universities and colleges decide the detail of their own access agreements, but these measures might include, for example, advice or funding for internships to improve students’ employability.
“We also encourage universities and colleges to engage in outreach work that ensures people from all backgrounds get good information, advice and guidance from an early age. This helps to raise their aspirations and dispel the myth that the professions are only open to people from the most advantaged backgrounds.
“Universities and colleges supply the graduates, but the professions must do all they can to open their doors to talented people from all backgrounds.
“At the moment, graduates from the most selective universities predominate within the most sought-after and influential careers, and these universities currently tend to have the furthest to go to make their student bodies truly representative.
“I hope that the professions will increasingly look to recruit excellent graduates from all the country’s higher education providers, including those with more diverse student populations.
“I also urge them to continue to improve the information, advice and guidance they give to potential students, working with universities and colleges wherever possible, so that people can make informed choices about studying.”