Offa finds Oxbridge access growth at a plateau

Elite universities have failed to make significant progress in attracting students from poorer backgrounds, according to the sector's access watchdog.

July 5, 2012

In its annual monitoring report for 2010-11, published on 4 July, the Office for Fair Access remarks that "performance on widening access to the most selective institutions has been flat in recent years, despite their considerable efforts and investment".

The figures released by Offa show that only 1,385 students from families earning less than £25,000 a year (14.4 per cent of full fee-paying students) attended the University of Oxford in 2010-11, just 13 more than the previous year.

The University of Cambridge was the UK's least socially diverse higher education institution, according to the report, with only 12.8 per cent of students (1,411 in total) hailing from poor backgrounds.

That figure compares with 63 per cent of undergraduates at London Metropolitan University, 62.6 per cent at the University of Bradford and 62 per cent at the University of East London.

Universities spent £424.2 million on widening access in 2010-11 - 24.4 per cent of the £1.74 billion received in tuition fee income above £1,310 a year - the current trigger for access regulation. Of the £378 million spent on scholarships and bursaries, £305.4 million went to the 322,000 students from low-income backgrounds.

About £46 million was spent on outreach - up from £39.6 million in 2009-10.

Access spending will rise to £621 million by 2015-16, with fee waivers, bursaries and outreach funded by £9,000 fees, Offa adds.

Sir Martin Harris, who will stand down as Offa's director at the end of August, insisted that the watchdog remained vital in the high-fee era because it challenged universities to do more on access.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show