The seminar will identify how universities and government have sought to make progress in this area during the last two decades and the patterns of participation arising from this.
Access to higher education is a major social issue in the UK as in most countries. Overall participation in the UK is moving towards 50 per cent of the school leaver age group but non-white students, state school students and students from disadvantaged regions of the UK are under-represented in academically elite universities. This pattern affects entry, completion and outcomes in graduate labour markets. Access to the University of Oxford is a persistent debate. Must universities choose between high standards and socially equitable admissions, or can we have both? What is the scope for change? Chris is the first Director of Fair Access and Participation in England’s Office for Students, which is the independent regulator of higher education. This is a statutory role established by the 2017 Higher Education and Research Act, with responsibility for improving equality of opportunity in relation to access to, success in and progression beyond higher education for students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups. The seminar will identify how universities and government have sought to make progress in this area during the last two decades and the patterns of participation arising from this. In doing so, it will consider the extent to which universities and government have been successful in this area, whether current patterns of participation can be considered to be a fair and equal opportunity for all, and the consequences of this. It will conclude by considering the imperatives for progress into the future and the balance of responsibilities between universities and other organisations, including the regulatory approach to be adopted by the Office for Students.