Offa fails to win over MP

July 22, 2005

An upbeat first report to Parliament by the university access regulator was met with a downbeat response amid calls for universities to do more outreach work.

Sir Martin Harris, director of the Office for Fair Access, this week said that 400,000 working-class students would share £300 million of bursaries in 2006.

Sir Martin reports that the Government's decision not to interfere in admissions has "not reduced institutions' desire to provide a range of measures to encourage applications from a diverse student population".

The report also reveals that the regulator spent £89,162 less than its £500,000 budget.

But Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North, was disappointed with universities' outreach work. "With the exception of the two Nottingham universities, other universities have barely impacted on my constituency," he said. "You would have thought universities would have inundated schools in low-attaining areas with information about bursaries."

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Campaigning for Modern Universities, said:

"This report will make uncomfortable reading for those who believe in equality of opportunity. It confirms that some students will receive ten times more bursary support than others with the same family income."

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