THE letter, written by Michael Hipkins, a senior higher education official in the DFEE, reminds Cubie that the era of grants and no loans has made little impact on the social imbalance of the student population.
In 1960, only 3.6 per cent of pupils from socio-economic groups IV, V and VI went on to unversity. This figure rose to just 17.4 per cent by 1995, while the number of children from affluent families increased from 26.7 per cent to 46.6 per cent during the same period.
"Whatever the perceived merits of grants and tuition fees wholly paid from public funds," the DFEE submission states, "there remains a significant disparity in participation rates."
The way forward, it adds, lies with continuing targeted support for the unemployed, those on low incomes or benefits, the disabled, part-time students and ethnic groups.