Offa monitoring report for 2012/13

17 July 2014

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

“This report recognises the significant investment and effort that our universities put into ensuring our doors are open to talented and able students from all backgrounds. It is good that OFFA confirm that higher fees have not deterred young people from low-income and other disadvantaged backgrounds from going into higher education. But we remain concerned that the Government’s access policies risk focusing too much on regulation and not enough on resolving the real problems.

“Investment by universities alone cannot solve the deeper causes of the under-representation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds: under-achievement at school and poor advice on the best choices of A-level subjects and university degree course.

"As this report confirms, Russell Group universities spend more in total than others and provide bigger bursaries, with a third of Russell Group students receiving a bursary or scholarship. Over the next few years, Russell Group universities will pump millions more into outreach activities and financial support.
“Russell Group universities already take a range of factors into account to ensure that we can identify the candidates with the most talent from all backgrounds. But it remains important that admission to university is based on merit and fairness to all candidates; any decisions about admissions must maintain high academic standards.”

Notes to editors

  1. In 2012-13, English Russell Group universities spent £128 million of their extra fee income on bursaries. This represents an average of £6.4 million per university, with some spending as much as £12 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 2012-13, the English Russell Group universities spent £24.6 million on OFFA-countable outreach activities, which is an average of £1.2 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. See our case studiesfor more details of outreach activities and initiatives undertaken by Russell Group universities. Russell Group universities already engage extensively with schools, from sponsoring academies to tutoring and mentoring and partnerships with specific boroughs and schools.
  3. By 2015-16, our universities will be spending £28.8 million on outreach activities and £153.7 million on fee waivers, bursaries and scholarships for students. This represents an average per institution of £9.6 million with some of our universities spending as much as £17 million. Overall, this amounts to over £5.9 million more per institution than the sector average of £3.7 million.  This investment will be targeted so that those in most need of financial support receive the help they need.  Of course, access to Government loans means that no student will have to pay their fees upfront, and loan repayments are only required from graduates once they are earning a reasonable salary.  Students from poorer families will also be entitled to Government grants to help with living costs.

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