UUK responds to OFFA report on bursary system

In response to a report published today by the Office for Fair Access, UUK said that the bursary system in England should be improved to allow universities to target financial support more effectively

The new analysis from OFFA shows that disadvantaged young people in England have not been influenced by the size of bursary on offer when making university choices.

Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK, said: "Although bursaries have succeeded in their main objective, to ensure that students are not deterred from going to university on financial grounds, there remains a strong correlation between prior attainment and participation in university. As this report demonstrates, financial aid alone is not sufficient to promote participation. This suggests that there should be a greater flexibility in how universities use this funding.

"The current bursary system should be replaced with an approach whereby universities are free to develop their own financial aid policies, within the context of an overall strategy to widen participation. This would ensure institutions are able to target resources more effectively in both access and outreach activities and financial aid initiatives to support fee waivers or higher bursaries.

"This must be a key consideration of Lord Browne's review into university funding and fees in England.

"The key to widening participation in higher education lies in raising awareness throughout the education process and in increasing attainment levels in schools. Universities are already working closely with very young people, as early as primary school age, to help them and their parents become aware of what higher education is about and what it has to offer.

"Universities UK is continuing to work with universities and sector organisations to ensure that the best possible information, advice and guidance on access and student support is available. This work will be informed by the consultation on public information undertaken by UUK, HEFCE and GuildHE to be released in December which will make recommendations on what should be published by institutions and where."


1. The research, 'Have bursaries influenced choices between universities?', was commissioned by OFFA from Dr Mark Corver, a participation expert at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), in collaboration with UCAS. View the full report or read the press release

2. Universities UK (UUK) is the representative organisation for the UK's universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/

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