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Colleges urged to set ambitious targets for access to HE

Office for Students says the inequality of access to higher education can only be tackled by 'unlocking potential'

High bar

Office for Students says the inequality of access to higher education can only be tackled by 'unlocking potential'

Colleges and universities should set “ambitious targets” in pursuit of equal opportunities when it comes to access to higher education, according to the Office for Students' director for fair access and participation.

In a speech later today at the launch of the Fair Education Alliance’s research into the use of contextual data in admissions, Chris Millward will say: “We are a long way from equality of opportunity in relation to access to higher education. So in the coming years, I will be expecting universities and colleges to set more ambitious targets in their access and participation plans to narrow the gaps.”

This, Mr Millward will go on to say, would include measures to increase the pool of applicants with the high levels of attainment needed to enter many universities. “But if we wait the years this will take to achieve, we will fail the next generation of students,” he will say.

'Inequality of access'

“An ambitious approach to contextual admissions must be central to our strategy to meet the expectations of government, students and the wider public. A-level grades can only be considered to be a robust measure of potential if they are considered alongside the context in which they are achieved.

“I do not believe that the inequality of access we see currently can reflect a lack of potential, and promoting equality of opportunity must be concerned with unlocking potential for students from all backgrounds."

The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England.

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