Offa’s open mind on aid

August 6, 2015

The Unite Foundation need not fear – the debate over the role of financial support in improving access and retention is still very much open as far as the Office for Fair Access is concerned (“Student support: don’t shut down the debate”, Letters, 30 July). So much so, in fact, that we are currently supporting a major research project to improve understanding of the impact of financial support. This project, which involves seven universities and the National Union of Students, will also provide practical evaluation tools to help institutions ensure that the bursaries they give go where they really make a difference.

We have certainly not ruled out that financial support may be beneficial, particularly in the changing context of overall student finance, and we are very much aware that the existing research concerns mostly the pre-2012 system. However, as an evidence-led organisation, we do need to be mindful of the fact that analysis to date, including the literature review we commissioned from Nursaw Associates earlier this year, has not found that bursaries are the powerful tool for access that many expected, either in terms of enabling students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter higher education, or in helping them to stay on and be successful in their studies.

We would welcome any robust contribution that the Unite Foundation or any others wish to make to our efforts to increase understanding of the role of financial support in improving access, success and progression in the current higher education landscape.

Les Ebdon
Director, Fair Access to Higher Education

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest