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1994 Group universities increase investment in student support and outreach activity and call for end to debate on national bursary scheme

Published on 05 August 2010

1994 Group universities have increased the proportion of the additional fee income they spend on attracting and supporting lower income and other under-represented students to an average of over 23% according to the latest annual monitoring report from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which includes seventeen 1994 Group institutions. Over 25,000 undergraduate students from lower income and other under-represented groups received a bursary or scholarship from 1994 Group universities in 2008-09.

Responding to today’s report Alistair Jarvis, Director of Communications at the 1994 Group, commented that:

“1994 Group universities are strongly committed to improving access and using variable bursaries and scholarships to encourage students from lower socio-economic groups to attend world-class research-intensive universities. The seventeen 1994 Group universities covered in the report have increased their investment in student support and outreach activity to over £43m in 2008-09 and in addition offer a wide range of scholarships and bursaries from private donations that continue to grow annually.”

“This report should end any calls for a 'national bursary scheme’. The present system – in which universities develop individual bursary schemes to meet the specific needs of their students – is proving a success and should continue. A national bursary scheme would be a big mistake, it would effectively be a tax, a forced pooling of tuition fee income, which would be distributed away from the institution to which a student pays his or her fee. It would seriously compromise the direct relationship that currently exists between a student's fees and their education.”

“Widening access and encouraging social mobility is at the heart of the founding vision of many 1994 Group universities. However, we must not be complacent. A guarantee that a targeted and robust student support system is in place that ensures that no student is unable to attend university because of cost must be at the centre of any future vision for higher education. There should be no barriers to able students entering higher education due to inability to pay.”

“We recognise that bursary awareness amongst prospective students remains an issue. Universities must work in close partnership with schools and colleges to raise attainment and aspirations and provide appropriate support through better targeted information, advice and guidance to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to attend leading universities. We believe that publicising bursaries earlier in the applicant journey will enhance access.The Group is currently working to produce a high-quality, online resource for potential students, and their parents and families. The resource will signpost to current sources of information which will include graduation/completion rates, and information about loans, scholarships and bursaries.”

Notes to Editors

  1. In its 3rd monitoring report published today (Thursday 5 August), OFFA finds that English universities and colleges spent a total of £344 million on access measures in 2008-09 including £304 million on bursaries and scholarships for students from lower income and other under-represented groups. Over 346,000 such students received a bursary or scholarship in this period. Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of bursary and scholarship expenditure was spent on the very poorest students, helping more than 230,000 students in receipt of a full state maintenance grant. OFFA also reports that bursary take-up among students from the lowest income group has again improved significantly. Some 96 per cent of HEIs are now reporting a take-up rate of 90 per cent or more.
  2. The 1994 Group represents 19 of UK's leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. 12 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2011 league tables published on the 8th June 2010 are 1994 Group members. 7 of the top 10 universities for student experience are 1994 Group Universities (2009 National Student Survey). In 17 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 57% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE).
  3. The OFFA report shows that the seventeen 1994 Group universities included increased the proportion of their additional fee income they spend on attracting and supporting lower income and other under-represented students from 22.17% in 2007-08 to over 23.18% in 2009-10. The OFFA report includes 17 of the 19 1994 Group member universities. One Scottish member University – St Andrew’s – is outside the OFFA scheme’s jurisdiction while another – Birkbeck – is excluded because its undergraduate provision is part time.
  4. The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Exeter, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex, University of York.
  5. Press Enquiries please contact Alistair Jarvis, Director of Communications, 1994 Group. Tel: 0207 872 5596. Email:

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