Universities' plans to recruit more students from disadvantaged backgrounds Watch

candokoala
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From an Office for Students press release:

Universities with the some of the highest entry requirements, including Oxford and Cambridge, have today published ambitious new plans to improve access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Details from the access and participation plans submitted to the Office for Students by universities include:
  • the University of Oxford, which recruited 15 times as many students from the most represented groups compared to the least represented in 2017-18, aims to reduce this ratio to8:1 by 2024-25
  • the University of Cambridge is aiming for a ratio of just under 7:1 by 2024-25, having recruited 14 times as many students from the most represented groups compared to the leastrepresented in 2017-18
  • the University of Manchester aims to reduce its access gap between the most and least represented groups to 3:1, from a ratio of 5:1 in 2017-18. The University of Southampton are also aiming for a 3:1 ratio by 2025, down from 5:1 in 2017-18
  • King’s College London aims to reduce the gap in degree attainment between BAME students and white students from 12.1 per cent to 3.1 per cent by 2024-2025. Aston Universityaims to eliminate its BAME attainment gap by 2025, from 10 per cent in 2017-18
  • several research-intensive universities are collaborating on joint targets to recruit more students from disadvantaged areas

In total, 41 universities have published access and participation plans today. These are providers with early recruitment deadlines, most of which have medical schools. These are commonly providers with high tariff entry requirements and the furthest to travel to improve access, so the OfS’s risk-based regulation focuses strongly on this stage of the student lifecycle.

Of this initial group of universities, 31 will be subject to ongoing “enhanced monitoring” by the OfS. Enhanced monitoring includes additional reporting requirements on commitments made in the plans, specific actions to address areas of weakness, requirements to change plans, or interventions from the director for fair access and participation. The OfS will be monitoring each university’s progress against the targets set out in the plans and has powers to intervene if there is insufficient progress.

Across English higher education providers there are still wide gaps in access and outcomes between the most and least advantaged groups. Data published by the OfS shows that:

  • Young students from disadvantaged areas are more likely to drop out, less likely to gain a first or 2.1, or find graduate employment compared to their more advantaged peers.
  • In 2017-18 there was a difference of 23 per cent between the proportion of white and black students achieving a first or 2.1.

The OfS has set itself targets to achieve equality of opportunity in higher education. The targets aim to eliminate gaps in:
  • Entry rates at the most selective universitiesbetween the most and least represented groups
  • Drop-out rates between the most and leastrepresented groups
  • Degree outcomes between white and black students
  • Degree outcomes between disabled and non-disabledstudents
What do you think? What should universities be doing to reduce these gaps and discrepancies?
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AngeryPenguin
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the University of Manchester aims to reduce its access gap between the most and least represented groups to 3:1, from a ratio of 5:1 in 2017-18. The University of Southampton are also aiming for a 3:1 ratio by 2025, down from 5:1 in 2017-18
This is confusing me. It sounds like they are talking about raw numbers (only 3 times as many white people as non-whites), rather than rates (white people 3 times more likely to get in).

Besides, aren't the plans to recruit more students of a certain ethnicity clashing with the goal of students of that ethnicity attaining the same degrees?

Presumably, regardless of racist discrimination, Oxford and Cambridge are already taking the best students from these ethnicities, and quotas are going to decrease the average ability and therefore contribute to worsening degree attainment of that group as a whole.
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candokoala
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(Original post by AngeryPenguin)
This is confusing me. It sounds like they are talking about raw numbers (only 3 times as many white people as non-whites), rather than rates (white people 3 times more likely to get in).
Yes, it seems it is ratios, so this would be aiming for three times as many advantaged students as there are disadvantaged.

Would you rather see it measured by likelihood of getting in e.g. by looking at overall applications from each group, and then seeing which proportion of those were successful?
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Andrew97
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My question would be how?

It’s all well and good saying that you wish to recruit more students from certain areas and improve degree attainment. However how is this accomplished.

I’d be willing to bet that lower entry requirements would be a potential solution to the first issue, but then we have an issue of fairness and this further magnifies issue 2.

As the poster above said, raw numbers are meaningless without context.

Rather than aiming to recruit more from disadvantaged areas for the sake of it, we should be aiming to eliminate said areas.

I’ll be intertested to see what 04MR17 has to say on this.
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_Wellies_
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(Original post by Andrew97)

Rather than aiming to recruit more from disadvantaged areas for the sake of it, we should be aiming to eliminate said areas.
And how would you go about that? Eliminate the spending difference between state and private schools for example? the middle classes would mutiny at the idea of levelling the playing field when it comes to education.
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04MR17
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I'd argue that when in comes to social equality in HE the biggest problem is allowing students to achieve just as highly as their more advantaged peers once they're at university.

Getting in is hard enough, then students find they're an outsider, they don't have any Ralph Lauren clothing and they aren't going to be able to compete for the rowing team. The lecturers are using words they don't understand and why is everyone in the kitchen either cooking things and using fennel and other weird ingredients or binging on dominoes every night: which you can't afford.

Obviously the above is an exaggeration of the scenario but I'd argue that's the problem which is getting addressed the least here. Especially when some universities are recruiting one disadvantaged students for every 14 of their traditional intake.

Southampton and Manchester (since the OP uses these as examples) are fairly well placed to achieve their goals since a fair proportion of the surrounding population would qualify for the characteristics outside the traditional student body. Given Oxbridge's reputation and the sheer volume of applications (the best of which are more likely to be from wealthier, and likely white backgrounds) it is harder for them to adapt this within their structures. That doesn't mean they're justified to ignore the problem and more can always be done, but it isn't quite as easy as a swing change in policy because there really would be a huge outcry, including from a lot of extremely generous donors.
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04MR17
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(Original post by Andrew97)
My question would be how?

It’s all well and good saying that you wish to recruit more students from certain areas and improve degree attainment. However how is this accomplished.

I’d be willing to bet that lower entry requirements would be a potential solution to the first issue, but then we have an issue of fairness and this further magnifies issue 2.

As the poster above said, raw numbers are meaningless without context.

Rather than aiming to recruit more from disadvantaged areas for the sake of it, we should be aiming to eliminate said areas.

I’ll be intertested to see what 04MR17 has to say on this.
In terms of how:
Outreach work in schools in poorer areas that they want to target. Simple way of doing it. Targetted emails towards people who have applied and fit the criteria to get them to take Unconditional If Firm offers and the like. Social media ads visible to people of certain age in certain areas of the country that most closely match the criteria. Reduced offers of course. Reduced offers if a student does a little project piece of work for them as part of an outreach scheme.

In terms of my thoughts:
See above post.
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