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Universities and equality, how do they fare?

Universities and equality, how do they fare?

With all the talk about the possible review of tuition fees and how they’re applied recently, the debate regarding inclusion in universities and wealth divides has reared its head once again.

Theresa May recently announced that she would be reviewing the way tuition fees in England and Wales are charged after it was revealed that UK universities are some of the expensive in the world.

With that in mind, we’re going to cover what the reality is for poor students, and how this applies to future university attendance. For landlords who invest heavily into student accommodation it’s vital that universities and student finance ensure maximum opportunities for all who wish to attend.

UK universities are, of course, some of the most well attended and successful in the world, but to ensure that reputation continues there certainly is a responsibility held by them and the government to make sure that all pathways are available.

With the recent change to the bursary system, often meaning that poorer children are disproportionately affected, there have been calls for more to be done about funding for them.

A report, published this week by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), concluded that: “while more disadvantaged young people are in higher education than ever before, the numbers of those students leaving before completing their studies has risen for the second year in a row.”

This analysis shows that the issue is far from simple, and that whilst disadvantaged students are finding their way to university, they’re struggling to stay there. It’s difficult to say what proportion of these students are struggling financially, as opposed to those unable to keep up, but the figures are concerning nonetheless.

This does, however, come off the back of figures from UCAS, published in The Independent, which said that “students who received free school meals – a long-time indicator of poverty – are less than half as likely to enter higher education than their more affluent peers.”

What’s the solution? Many have stated that there are too many university courses which offer poor value for money and provide little opportunity beyond postgraduate level. These have poor attendances and often lead to dropouts.

That doesn’t explain the whole picture, though, and many have called on the government to ensure greater financial support for poor students attending university or even a graduate tax, which they hope would stop poorer students being put off from amassing huge amounts of debt.

There are also those who advocate for better financial teaching and assistance within universities so that poorer children who may need to learn to budget for themselves for the first time can avoid going into deficit, or even student loans paid as a monthly amount, rather like a salary, to avoid students having to go months without income.

Wherever the solution lies, the government needs to act quickly to ensure that opportunity exists for all, and that students aren’t dropping out due to financial reasons, and this can benefit not just students and universities, but the landlords who provide the accommodation too.