UCL's Access Agreement approved by OFFA

12 July 2011

UCL’s new Access Agreement, setting out its plans to further encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to come to the university, has been approved by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), and will come into effect from the start of the academic year 2012-13.

All universities planning to charge over £6,000 for their undergraduate courses from 2012 were required to submit an Access Agreement to OFFA.

Under the plan, UCL will spend some 30% of the additional student fee income on access measures, equating to around £8.2m a year once the new fee structure is fully implemented. It is intended that around £7 million will be spent on financial support for students, and £1.2m on outreach activities, which will focus on raising the aspirations of students from under-represented groups.

Highlights of the UCL agreement include:

Financial support for students
UCL has chosen to provide maintenance bursaries as opposed to fee waivers, as these provide no benefit to the learner during their time as a student. From 2012/13, UCL will participate in the National Scholarship Programme and introduce a new bursary scheme. All UK/EU undergraduate entrants with a household income of less than £25,000 will receive a bursary equivalent to £3,500.  A bursary of £1,000 per year will be provided for all students with a declared household income between £25,000 and £42,000.

Students in front of the UCL portico

Targets and milestones
The agreement also sets out challenging new application targets, focusing on students from lower socio-economic groups and low-participation neighbourhoods. UCL will seek to increase applications from prospective students from lower socio-economic groups (SEC 4-8) by 25% over the period 2012-17, with an annual milestone of a 5% increase in applications. It will also aim to increase applications from students from low-participation neighbourhoods by equivalent numbers over the same period.

UCL will also seek to increase its percentage of intake from state schools by 10% over the period 2012-17, with an annual milestone of a 2% increase.

Outreach activity milestones
The agreement also sets out a number of outreach activity milestones. These include:

•    Recruiting 100 students a year to the Horizons Year 11 Saturday School programme;    
•    Recruiting 50 students a year to the attainment activity “Aspire” delivered for A-Level students at City & Islington College, leading to at least 20% of the cohort making applications to UCL;
•    Engaging with 2,500 primary school children per year through UCL’s Museum & Collections activity.
•    Recruiting a constant pool of 50 student advocates (25 current students, 25 alumni) to deliver sessions in their previous schools.  

UCL President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, said: “This agreement sets out a challenging but achievable programme of activity, designed both to support students while they are at UCL, as well to build upon our existing programme of outreach, which focuses on encouraging students from the least represented groups to apply to UCL.

“We have chosen quite deliberately to focus much of our additional spending on supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds whilst they are studying at UCL, as opposed to offering fee waivers, as we believe that it is while the students are actually studying that they most need the financial support.

“This Agreement is entirely in line with our origins, as UCL was the first university to open up English higher education to people of all beliefs and social backgrounds, and it should be noted that we already run an extensive programme of activities designed to open admissions to the most disadvantaged students.

“This includes a full programme of outreach activities with schools, and Autumn 2012 will see the opening of the UCL-sponsored Academy in Camden, our biggest single commitment to raising aspiration and opportunity within our community with an eventual enrolment of 1,200 students.”

Media contact: Dominique Fourniol