18 October 2012

Response to Milburn Report on Higher Education and Social Mobility

Million+ response to Alan Milburn’s report ‘University Challenge: How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility’

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+ said:

“There is much to welcome in this comprehensive report, which throws the gauntlet down to universities and challenges government not to throw away the genuine advances made towards social mobility in the past decade.

“We share Milburn’s view that the ‘distinction between equity and excellence is a false one’.

“It is right to identify the increase in tuition fees as possibly having a deterrent effect including upon mature students and we wholeheartedly support the need for a strong government-led communications campaign targeted to all potential students of whatever age to promote access to university.

“million+ has recently called for a moratorium on the further deregulation of student numbers based on A-level grades and we welcome the recommendation for a two-year pause. It would be to our considerable shame if the extension of the student numbers market undermined the cause of social mobility.

“The equivalent of a ‘pupil premium’ for students, linked to the National Scholarship Programme, will not benefit the one-third of undergraduates who are mature students and who represent a clear measure of social mobility. Those universities which have the most diverse student profiles require steady central funding to support students while they are studying. There would be real disadvantages in transferring the widening participation premium into another pot of funding.”

"Alan Milburn is also right to say that the government's abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was a mistake but his proposal that universities should provide support for pupils in schools and colleges from disadvantaged backgrounds would create a postcode lottery that would exclude many students."


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 Jean Candler, Head of Public Affairs on 020 7717 1659 or 07900 277 819.

  2. University Challenge: How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility: A progress report by the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, Rt Hon Alan Milburn is published on 18 October 2012.