Russell Group unis still excluding poorer students

first_imgIn addition to access concerns, the report showed how Russell Group students were relatively more likely than those at post-1992 institutions to have wanted a university place “for the experience”, as opposed to “to gain qualifications” or “improve [their] chances of getting a job.” While only 23% of post-1992 university students reported being in it “for the experience,” 35% from Russell Group members said that this was a factor behind their university attendence.And in spite of the academic prowess of the Russell Group universities, only 62% of students compared to 73% in post-1992 institutions said that they had applied “to gain qualifications.” Russell Group students were also less concerned about “improving [their] earning potential.”A third-year DPhil student said they recognised that the statistics reflected their own priorities at Oxford. “I was aware that doing a thesis would leave me with a lot of flexibility. I want to get the most out of the extra-curricular activities on offer, and my degree definitely comes second,” he said.Responding to the findings, Piat told Cherwell, “we are delighted that Russell Group students have indicated the highest levels of satisfaction with the quality of teaching and learning at their institutions and that the vast majority cited academic reputation as a key factor in their choice of university.” She added, “The report found that 89% of students at Russell Group universities rated the quality of teaching and learning as good or excellent, compared to a sector-wide average of 85%.”The NUS report also highlighted that while Russell Group physics students received more contact hours time that post-1992 universities, they lost out in communications and documentation degrees.“Students studying physical sciences and related subjects received 20 contact hours a week in pre-1992 universities and 15 hours a week in post-1992 universities,” the study stated, yet “students studying mass communications and documentation subjects received 7 contact hours a week in Russell Group universities compared with 14 hours a week in Post 1992 universities.” The Russell Group of universities is not doing enough to address the financial and accommodation-based concerns of prospective applicants from less privileged backgrounds, a report released this week by the National Union of Students (NUS) has revealed.The group of 20 leading UK universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, was shown to attract far fewer students who were concerned about their university being close to home (19% in contrast to 41% for former polytechnics which because universities in 1992), despite this concern being at the top of the agenda for applicants from the lowest socio-economic groups, D and E (parents who are unskilled manual and casual workers).53% of students from groups D and E reported choosing an institution based on its geographical proximity, against only a fifth of group A applicants (from a professional or managerial background).The Director of the Russell Group, Wendy Piat, declined to comment on these statistics, stating that the group “welcomes this study which will serve as a useful tool to help our institutions continue to improve the quality of education and support they provide.” In a press release last year, however, Piat wrote that she was “particularly determined to help to tackle the root cause of the problem of the under-representation of students from poorer backgrounds at Russell Group institutions.”Despite this, the report described a continuing trend that “students that attend Pre 1992 [former Polytechnics], and particularly Russell Group institutions, are significantly more likely to be from higher socio-economic groups.” The statistics come as Oxford processes the applications from thousands of prospective applicants for the 2009 intake, who have been targeted by a number of the University’s access schemes.These include the Oxford Access Scheme Ambassador Programme, which takes students from “schools with no history of sending applicants to Oxford University… through four years of residential and one day events leading up to university application.”Responding to the figures, one Magdalen classicist told Cherwell, “it seems ridiculous that our universities can’t get their act together over access. It’s a really important issue to me, and if all these resources we’re putting towards targeting less-well off schools aren’t paying off, we ought to have a serious rethink.”last_img

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