"Universities are not the birthright for the middle classes," states education secretary Estelle Morris ( THES , October 26), but that is exactly what is happening under the present policy. In the 1990s, Neil Kinnock boasted that he had been the first of his family to go to university. The same is true of other people, but the difference now is that they may well be the last.
The political rhetoric used to justify tuition fees and defend the concept of loans has totally missed the point. Many working-class families have an aversion to debt and the problem is compounded for them where there is more than one child wishing to go on to university.
If the government really wants to give credibility to the notion of widening participation, it needs to look first at what it has been doing to narrow access by making ability to pay, rather than academic merit, the determining factor.
School of education and social science
University of Derby