OFFA annual monitoring report

04 June 2015

Commenting on the annual monitoring report by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said: 

“OFFA rightly recognise the significant investment and efforts of our universities to ensure their doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds.  

“More and more disadvantaged students are studying at Russell Group universities. Young people from the most disadvantaged areas in 2014 were around 40 per cent more likely to enter a leading university than three years ago. More than a third of our students receive a bursary or scholarship.  

"Over the next few years, Russell Group universities will pump millions more into outreach activities and financial support and continue to take a range of factors into account to ensure we identify candidates with the most talent from all backgrounds.  

“We are far from complacent and will continue to invest a huge amount of time, effort and resources to close the access gap. However, we remain concerned that Offa’s access policies risk focusing too much on regulation and not enough on resolving the real problems – namely underachievement at school and poor advice on the best choices of A-level subjects and university degree course.

“Our universities want students from all backgrounds with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed. But admission to university should continue to be based on merit and fairness, with high academic standards maintained.” 

Notes to editors

  1. In 2013-14, English Russell Group universities spent £133 million of their extra fee income on bursaries and scholarships. This represents an average of £6.6 million per university, with some spending as much as £14 million. The OFFA monitoring report includes information about expenditure of additional fee income on lower income and other under-represented groups only. Therefore, this figure does not include scholarships and bursaries funded from other sources, or awarded to students outside of the OFFA target groups. 
  2. In 2013-14, the English Russell Group universities spent £30 million on OFFA-countable outreach activities, which is an average of £1.5 million per institution. This is in addition to other investment by institutions. Russell Group universities are committed to an extensive outreach programme and support summer schools, access programmes, open days and special entry routes. Russell Group universities already engage extensively with schools, from sponsoring academies to tutoring and mentoring and partnerships with specific boroughs and schools.

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