New rules to stamp out prejudice in university admissions have been published by the Quality Assurance Agency.
Amid persistent concerns that working-class and some ethnic minority students are getting an unfair deal from admissions tutors, highlighted by the political furore last year when Oxford University rejected talented comprehensive school student Laura Spence, the QAA has published a code of practice for student recruitment.
Peter Williams, acting chief executive of the QAA, said: "It is in the interests of institutions, applicants and their families that admission to higher education is seen to be fair and open. Recruitment and selection procedures should take full account of the age, and social and cultural diversity of those who wish to enter higher education."
He said the code avoided over-prescriptive meddling in institutions' right to set their own admissions criteria.
The code introduced nine new rules against which universities will be judged during QAA audits, adding to a total of almost 200 new rules under the code for the assurance of academic quality and standards.
It also covers information, student complaints, staff development and training and the regular monitoring of institution-wide admissions.