Online students advantaged

September 10, 1999

Students from poorer backgrounds who do not have access to a home computer could be disadvantaged during clearing, writes Alison Goddard.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service recorded 140,000 full-course searches on its website on A-level results day alone. This week, UCAS said that students with access to home computers accounted for the majority of searches.

"Students are obviously disadvantaged if they don't have online access, particularly when they need to make decisions quickly in a competitive situation," said Tim O'Shea, master of Birkbeck College, London, and an authority on computing and widening participation by under-represented groups.

Traditional universities accounted for the most searches. The top ten institutions were all old universities, and were headed by Manchester, Leeds and Cambridge - despite the fact that Cambridge did not offer places through clearing. The top new university was the University of the West of England, which came 64th out of 75 in The THES's league table for widening participation by students from under-represented groups.

Sunderland University, which topped the table, recorded less than a tenth of the number of searches made for courses at the University of Manchester.

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