In brief

March 31, 2000

The Birkbeck statistics from 1997 quoted by Alison Goddard ("Swapping the ghetto for the gown", THES, March 17) are, as the Higher Education Funding Council for England table shows, based on a small sample of less than a quarter (23 per cent) of our student records. In fact about 20 per cent of our degree-level students do reside in those areas termed "poor neighbourhoods", which is above average for the sector, while 14 per cent of all our students were also recorded as having no previous higher education qualifications. Birkbeck, with the support of Pounds 230,000 from the Hefce widening participation initiative, is helping an increasing number of students from all backgrounds gain access to the educational opportunities that we offer.

Tim O'Shea

Master, Birkbeck College, University of London

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