Recently, it was reported that 50 percent of young adults are attending UK universities, a high record for The country which has finally fulfilled Tony Blair’s target set in 1999. iNews reported that “new statistics showed that 50.2 percent of 17 to 30 year olds participated in higher education in the year 2017-2018, up from 49.9 percent the previous year.” This sounds like good news, but as the statistics emerged, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson called out certain UK universities in a letter for lacking diversity and failing to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, UK Universities Urged To Step Up Their Diversity Game.
UK Universities Urged To Step Up Their Diversity Game
In spite of higher rate of participation, he has accused most universities of “virtue signalling”, which means they are making misleading claims about being inclusive and divers when actually they are not.
He wrote, “It is unfair that white working class boys are far less likely to go to university and also, black students are far less likely to complete their courses than others. We cannot continue to set back and let this wasted potential go unchecked any longer. I would like all universities, including the most selective, to do everything possible to assist disadvantaged students to access a world-class education, but they also need to keep them there as well as curb the numbers dropping out of courses. My message is clear – up your game and get on with it.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary for Education is asking UK Universities to do more for disadvantaged students and to do everything possible to make sure students complete their courses and reduce dropout rate. During a visit to King’s College, he acknowledged that things are moving in the right direction but are far too slow in doing so.
He cited King’s College as an example of a university that has made positive changes to become “one of the most diverse universities anywhere in the country”.
According to iNews, “He highlighted the university’s policy of offering “differential rates in terms of grades, so that students who are experiencing financial difficulty with “obvious potential” can also win a place with lower grades than their better-off peers.”
William said that while £1 billion is spent by universities on widening access, most of them are not providing evidence to show proof of the impact of these funds. “There’s a lot of virtue signalling going on, but so far I have not seen enough results. I’m not going to be bias in terms of shaming and naming universities that lag behind continuosly.”
Williamson gave an example of a young man who joined King’s College as a medical student even though his grades were not on par with the rest of his peers. However, he emerged as the top student in the whole medical school this year.
Professor Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, agreed that more should be done to help disadvantaged students access a world-class education and that universities should therefore support all students regardless of their grades.
She said, “Progress is being made, with 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in England are more likely to go to university than ever before,” but she acknowledged there is more work to do.
Universities UK has made recommendations on how universities can address attainment gaps for black, Asian and minority ethnic students.
However, she said the government should bring back ““maintenance grants for most especially students in need, helping to curb or reduce drop-out rates and financial barriers to university.”