'Closing the Gap' report

14 May 2014

Commenting on the University Alliance report Closing the Gap: unlocking opportunity through higher education, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of universities, said:

“We do not accept the report’s conclusions about how different types of university add value to students in terms of future earning potential.  In fact, the BIS report1 cited to support this suggestion shows a clear and positive relationship between attending a Russell Group university and career earnings. Men and women who graduate from our universities earn on average 16% or 9% more respectively than graduates from a new university. 

“In comparing graduate earnings between institutions, trying to control for differences in students’ entry qualifications or background is not particularly meaningful. The BIS report’s authors were quite candid that in this respect their analysis is basic and imperfect.

“It is really important that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not given misleading advice but rather have access to the right information to maximise their life chances. 

“This report also suggests that ‘poorer students will always be disadvantaged in a system that restricts places’. The evidence for this is not clear, nor is it clear that removing student number controls will only help disadvantaged students. 

“Removing student number controls may help increase participation of those who are less qualified, but it will also mean that the funding available for higher education (including funds for access and student financial support) will have to stretch further.  This may not benefit poorer students and threatens the quality of what is taught.

“Good teaching requires proper levels of investment and we are not yet convinced the Government can deliver on its promise that the quality of provision will not suffer with such a significant expansion of numbers.

“Russell Group universities are wholeheartedly committed to ensuring our doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds. Our leading universities are highly selective and we make no apologies for that – we want to admit students with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed – whatever their background.

“Employers recognise the “value added” by Russell Group universities, which is why 11 of the top 30 universities in the world, as ranked by employers, are Russell Group universities.”

Note to editors

  1. BIS research paper no 112: The impact of university degrees on lifecycle of earnings https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229498/bis-13-899-the-impact-of-university-degrees-on-the-lifecycle-of-earnings-further-analysis.pdf

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