According to England’s higher-education-access watchdog, the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the country’s elite universities must recruit more talented students from poor homes. OFFA head Professor Les Ebdon highlighed data showing that the proportion of poor students at top universities had fallen, making wider access to university a matter of “national importance.”
OFFA research indicates the richest 20% of young people are seven times more likely to enter the most selective institutions than the poorest 40%. This ratio has risen from six times more likely in the mid-1990s.
Professor Ebdon said that OFFA would help universities set and meet challenging targets on widening participation from less-privileged social groups. He added, however, that there was no question of punishing universities who did not meet the targets.