Elite told to aid access by running catch-up

September 20, 2002

A foundation year run by elite universities to help students from non-traditional backgrounds to win places is being promoted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

But the institutions say that such a scheme could prove impractical as lecturers at top universities would not want to swap research for foundation-level teaching.

Hefce this week invited elite institutions to bid for extra student places for foundation courses. It states in a document: "We would particularly welcome bids for foundation years, or shorter courses, from institutions where entry requirements to programmes are particularly demanding. These should widen participation by assisting students from non-traditional backgrounds to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to enter such competitive programmes."

Unlike those on conventional access courses, these students would be eligible for financial support, including loans.

Rodney Eastwood, director of planning and information at Imperial College, London, said: "Anything that helps students from poor backgrounds to take advantage of our courses is welcome. But this is running a school - school science has been in decline for years and now universities are asked to teach it."

At University College London, the proposals were welcomed in principle but not in practice. Vice-provost Michael Worton said: "In terms of student numbers, we have reached saturation point."

A spokesman for the University of Warwick said that it would not reject the proposals out of hand. The university already buses sixth-formers to its maths department for extra tuition.

But Trevor Hawkes, who handles admissions for Warwick's maths department, said: "Academics have priorities: research first, teaching second and administration third. That doesn't mean to say that we neglect teaching but it's research that inspires it. Asking people to give up research time to teach a foundation course would be a challenge."

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 3 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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns