Conservative peer Baroness Perry has called for a new quality assurance system that fosters diversity between higher education institutions, writes Alan Thomson.
Baroness Perry, pro vice-chancellor of Surrey University and former vice-chancellor of South Bank University, said that university quality should be measured against criteria that take account of the type of institution being inspected.
"I want to see South Bank measured by its own standards which take into account things like students' backgrounds and graduate employment success, and not by those applied to Cambridge," she said.
Baroness Perry, who delivered the Harold Dent Memorial Lecture at the College of Teachers on Tuesday, said that blind pursuit of the 50 per cent participation target would mean students from poorer backgrounds would be forced to study sub-degree courses.
She said that true widening participation would occur when more pupils from poorer backgrounds achieved better results at school and were then able to select the appropriate course and institution for them from a genuinely diverse higher education system.