Commenting on the Office for Fair Access’ 2017-18 access agreement decisions, Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“It is good to see OFFA exercising its independence and powers to ensure that targets are both realistic and demanding. That’s how the system should work. With rising tuition fees, these access agreements will become even more important if we are to see an improvement in the numbers of less advantaged young people going to university. However, in the past five years there has been a massive 38% decline in the number of part time students, many of whom are mature and who are crucial to social mobility.
“We believe that it is crucial in the current higher education bill that the Director of Fair Access remains independent, answering to parliament and ministers. Otherwise the danger is that this role is subsumed into the new Office for Students bureaucracy.
”It is also welcome that universities are investing £830m in access and outreach, but with OFFA we are working to ensure that there is value for money in such work. Universities also need to consider the balance between investing at an earlier age and while young people are already studying. Too many bright but disadvantaged young people don’t make the progress they should at school, and outreach work could help arrest that decline.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 170 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.