4 July 2012

million+: modern universities lead the way in widening participation

Modern universities have demonstrated their commitment to attracting and supporting students from a diverse range of backgrounds, as shown by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) annual monitoring report published today. This report looks at English universities’ work on widening participation in higher education in the 2010-11 academic year. The OFFA report confirms that there was an increase in university spending on bursaries, scholarships and outreach activities for students from groups currently under-represented in higher education.

The million+ analysis of the OFFA statistics reveals that on average 55% of students at modern universities received a bursary or other institutional support, compared to 46% for the sector overall. OFFA has also confirmed that the best-performing universities on access spent proportionately more than expected even when the higher number of eligible students was taken into account.

million+ Chair and Vice-Chancellor of the University of East London Professor Patrick McGhee said:

“Modern universities do more than expected by OFFA. They are the most successful in delivering access to higher education for students from a wide range of backgrounds. The graduate profile would look very different if the contribution of modern universities to widening participation was taken out of the equation. OFFA has confirmed once again that commitment to access makes a real difference to the opportunities which universities actually make available to students. There are huge benefits to the UK and to social cohesion of ensuring that higher education is opened to the widest possible pool of talent’.


Notes to editors:

  1. million+ is a leading university think-tank, working to solve the complex problems in higher education www.millionplus.ac.uk For more information please contact Drew Lindon on 0207 717 1655 or 07900 277819.
  2. The OFFA report Access agreement and widening participation strategic assessment monitoring: Outcomes for 2010-11 is available with supporting information here.
  3. The OFFA report includes statistics on the number of undergraduate students at individual institutions who hold a bursary or scholarship. It excludes awards paid to students who do not fall in ‘OFFA-countable groups’. OFFA-countable groups include those from low-income backgrounds, those from some ethnic groups or sub-groups, disabled people and other groups.