October 10th, 2007 - Posted By
|Every secondary school in England is to be partnered with a university, John Denham is to announce.
The universities secretary will announce the scheme as part of a drive to get more pupils from low-income families into higher education.
It aims to encourage more children from poor families to stay in education to get A-levels or their equivalent.
He will warn institutions that their reputation will be damaged if they draw students from a narrow social base.
Statistics suggest that young people whose families are in the poorest 20% are five times less likely to go to university than their peers in the richest 20%.
The majority of pupils who get the qualifications needed for higher education already go to university.
So the government is keen to get more children from poorer families to stay on at school.
Mr Denham told a university vice-chancellors’ conference in Leicester last month that “social bias” in some of the UK’s leading universities had led to a “huge waste of talent and ability”.
But universities could not offer places to students who did not apply, he warned.
The government was removing the financial barriers to studying by providing more generous grants and bursaries, he added.
Both Oxford and Cambridge universities have targets to recruit about three quarters of their undergraduates from state schools, although they dispute the basis on which these are calculated.
But figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed Oxford admitted 53.7% of its students from state schools in 2005-06, while the proportion at Cambridge was 57.9%.