Access to Advantage

07 December 2018

Responding today to the Sutton Trust report Access to Advantage, Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“Russell Group universities believe strongly in the transformative power of higher education. We want to recruit students with potential and drive, regardless of background, and we are working hard to improve social mobility. There has been progress in recent years but today’s research underlines that this remains a big challenge. The root causes of under-representation are complex and solving them is a shared social mission, bringing together universities, schools, families and the Government.

“Russell Group universities work with around 8,000 schools each year, running schemes ranging from mentoring, to summer schools, campus visits, sponsoring schools and providing CPD for teachers. Our universities also use contextual data and admissions processes to identify candidates who can excel on their courses, whatever their social or educational background.”

Notes to editors:

  • Russell Group universities spend over £270m annually on initiatives to widen access and support success for disadvantaged students, and we have increased our funding by over 60% over the last six years for outreach activities, scholarships and bursaries for the most disadvantaged
  • between 2009/10 and 2016/17, the number of students eligible for free school meals at Russell Group universities more than doubled (increasing by over 130% from 910 to 2,150)
  • nearly 8 out of 10 young people at Russell Group universities studying for a full-time first degree now come from a state school background
  • the number of UK students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds accepted to study at Russell Group universities has steadily increased in recent years, rising from 23,105 in 2007/08 to 34,850 in 2016/17 –an increase of 51%
  • there is now greater representation of students from BME backgrounds at our universities than in the general young population across the UK: over 21% of our students are from BME backgrounds compared to 19% of young people from BME backgrounds in the UK population more generally
  • the gap in drop-out rates between young students from low participation neighbourhoods and others is smaller at Russell Group universities than for the sector as a whole (1.1 percentage points vs. 2.2 percentage points)
  • while there remains an attainment gap between BME and white students which our institutions are seeking to address, it is significantly smaller than at other HEIs (5 percentage points at Russell Group universities vs. 12 percentage points at other HEIs) and the gap is closing over time

 To read our paper How Russell Group universities facilitate social mobility and for case studies of how universities are improving access, click here.

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