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What if… we really wanted to diversify access to our universities?

25 April 2019, 5:45 pm–7:00 pm

IOE debates access to universities

Is “comprehensivisation” the answer to the slow pace of progress in widening access to the most prestigious universities, or can we improve our current structures to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to study at a university that matches their talents and aspirations?

Event Information

Open to

All

Availability

Yes

Organiser

Kate Thomas

Location

Jeffery Hall
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London
WC1H 0AL
United Kingdom

Watch the debate 

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For many decades, English higher education policy has been underpinned by the principle that young people from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to study at a university that matches their talents and aspirations.

This has informed successive policies that have re-shaped the sector, from New Labour’s aspiration that 50% of young people should progress to university (up from 12% in the late ‘70s), to the Conservatives’ policy on facilitating access via student fees and loans and removing the cap on the number of students universities can recruit. Alongside, we’ve seen numerous initiatives to ‘widen participation’ and improve ‘fair access’, from the national AimHigher programme to universities’ own outreach efforts.

The issue also reverberates back through the education system, with heated debate on what kind of schools system, comprehensive or selective, best serves under-represented groups in accessing the most ‘prestigious’ universities. In the meantime, frustration with the slow progress made in widening access has pushed the debate further, with some now arguing that ‘comprehensive universities’ with open admissions should become the mainstay of the sector.

Is “comprehensivisation” the answer to the slow pace of progress in widening access to the most prestigious universities, or can we improve our current structures to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to study at a university that matches their talents and aspirations?

    Listen again

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    Speakers

    • Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)
    • Anna Vignoles, Professor of Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
    • Paul Jump, Features and Opinion Editor at the Times Higher Education (THE)
    • Claire Fox, Academy of Ideas Director
    • Chair: Professor Becky Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education

    Links

    In association with TES