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Higher Education: Admissions

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which universities admitted (a) more than 90 per cent. of their students from state schools and (b) more than 20 per cent. of students from low participation backgrounds in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006; and if he will make a statement. (170434)

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what proposals he has to increase the number of students from state-funded schools entering Russell Group universities. (170444)

The Government are firmly committed to ensuring that every young person with the ability and potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so. Recently published higher education indicators show that in England we are making progress in widening participation for students from state schools, including among some of the most selective institutions such as the Russell Group—overall the proportion of state school entrants has risen by a percentage point between 2004/05 and 2005/06. It is important that individuals are able to access a course and institution that best suits their needs, including stretching and challenging the most talented.

We will continue to treat this as a priority through, among other things: continuing our support for the national Aimhigher Programme, which seeks to raise young people’s aspirations and recognise higher education as a viable and valuable ambition; the role of the Office for Fair Access, which aims to promote and safeguard fair access to higher education for under-represented groups; and the new Gifted and Talented (G and T) Excellence Hubs, which seek to provide additional activities for G and T young people across the country, with particular emphasis on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Even the most talented students must be sufficiently well prepared to study and succeed in higher education and that is why we are encouraging universities to extend and strengthen their existing links with schools so that they can help schools raise standards and attainment levels while identifying and nurturing the young students of the future.