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Universities UK response to OFFA monitoring report 2008-09

Published 05 August 2010

Universities UK has welcomed a report from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which shows significant improvement in the take-up of bursaries among students from the lowest income group at universities charging variable tuition fees.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “The results today are very positive. With over 346,000 students from low income or under-represented backgrounds receiving a bursary or scholarship in 2008/9, and an increase in the proportion of additional fee income spent on bursaries (from 21.8% to 22.8%), it is clear that the sector has made great progress in this area.

“Universities, and other sector bodies, have strenuously tackled the issue of the take-up of bursaries and this report shows their success. Among students from the lowest income group, there is an increase from 90 per cent in 2007-08 to 96 per cent in 2008-09, with a high majority of institutions (96%) reporting a take-up rate of 90 per cent or more. Considered together, these developments are a clear demonstration of the firm commitment from all our universities to target support effectively, so that no-one is deterred from higher education on financial grounds.

“Universities have also made great strides in working with the SLC (Student Loans Company) to share information and promote their bursary schemes successfully, to ensure all eligible students are made aware of what they are entitled to. It is encouraging to see from this report that all students who applied for a bursary through the correct channels received one, and we will continue to look at ways of improving awareness about what’s on offer for potential applicants.

“In addition to providing bursaries, universities are fully engaged in a number of measures to improve access. This has resulted in an impressive 97% of universities reporting progress towards their key milestones relating to applicants and entrants from under-represented groups. It is especially important that we find a way of recognising the full range of universities’ investment in these activities, which may come from philanthropic donations and scholarships from business. In this light, it seems sensible to allow universities the freedom to develop their own financial aid policies, with the overall aim of seeking to widen participation. We believe that the clear commitment already demonstrated by the sector to this agenda, renders the current mandatory bursary unnecessary.”

ENDS

Notes

  1. For more information on OFFA’s monitoring outcomes report for 2008/09, visit: http://www.offa.org.uk/
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