Universities were dismayed to be branded "institutionally elitist", catering for the middle classes and not for people from low-income backgrounds. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many have been involved in broadening the social base of higher education despite poor funding. The student body is diverse, with significant numbers of mature, part-time and ethnic minority students. Universities are developing partnerships with schools and colleges, running summer schools and promoting access to high-demand subjects such as medicine and law.
School reform is key to increasing the supply of students from lower socioeconomic groups. The financial barrier to widening access also needs to be tackled. Support arrangements need to be simplified and adequate bursaries provided for the poorest.
Chief executive, Universities UK