Poor students need financial boost, say MPs

8 Feb 01
The government should quadruple the 'participation premiums' given to universities for admitting students from poor socio-economic backgrounds, according to the Commons education select committee.

09 February 2001

The ten-member, cross-party committee of MPs is pressing for the premiums to be increased from the current 5% to 20% and then to 50% at a later date, as an added incentive to enrol more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Participation premium funding for universities and colleges which admit students from deprived areas is paid by the government via the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and can range from £70 to £120 per pupil.

The money is paid on top of funding already given to universities and colleges for each registered student, ranging from £4,000 to £12,000 per pupil.

'A radical way to encourage real change in universities' approach to increasing the diversity of intakes would be to increase very substantially the per capita funding for students from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds,' the committee said in a report published on February 8.

'This would capture the attention of higher education decision makers and encourage them to put social diversity at the heart of their strategy.'

The MPs also urged the government to consider continuing the grant for each year the student is registered to help encourage retention, as opposed to the current system where money is only given to universities and colleges for the first year.


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