Commenting on provisional end-of-cycle data from UCAS for the academic year 2010/11, Director of Fair Access Sir Martin Harris said: “These figures demonstrate very strong demand for higher education, demand that can partly be attributed to the success in widening participation. Clearly, with limited places, competition for a university place is getting tougher – although applications rose, acceptances of UK students actually fell very slightly. We can expect to see the high numbers of ‘reappliers’ that we saw in this year in 2011-12 as well.
“It is encouraging that the numbers of students from areas with a record of low participation in higher education have increased as a proportion of the student population. However, until we know population data for this period, we will not know whether participation in higher education has increased among this group as a proportion of the general population.”
“Looking ahead, with plans to increase tuition fees to up to £9.000 a year from 2012-13, it will be very important for OFFA and universities to develop stronger access measures so that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are not deterred on financial grounds. It will also be crucial to communicate the new arrangements clearly – under the proposals, students will pay nothing upfront, will only start making repayments once they are earning £21,000, and then will actually pay back less per month – albeit over a slightly longer period – than they do under the existing system.
“If these messages do not get through loud and clear, there is a very real risk that the numbers of disadvantaged students who believe that they ‘can’t afford to go to university’ will grow, reversing the positive trend in participation that we have seen over recent years.”
For more information, please contact Zita Adamson, Communications Manager on 0117 931 7272/931 7171 or email@example.com.
Notes to editors
- For the full UCAS figures, please see http://www.ucas.ac.uk/about_us/media_enquiries/media_releases/
- The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) was established under the Higher Education Act 2004. Our role is to help safeguard and promote fair access to higher education by regulating the charging of higher fees. The main way we do this is by approving and monitoring access agreements.
- All publicly funded universities and colleges in England that wish to charge tuition fees above the basic level have to submit an access agreement to us for approval and complete an annual monitoring return. Access agreements show the fees that an institution intends to charge, its plans for bursaries and other financial support for lower income and other under-represented groups, and, in some cases, additional outreach work. It is therefore reasonable to describe us as the ‘fair access regulator’ or the ‘fees and bursaries regulator’. Our remit does not include admissions.