Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/480/2230
Universities fail to accept state school pupils
THE FALL in applications to universities at the start of this year was mainly felt by Britain's least financially well-off people. Proportionately, the decline was largest in the sections of society who are already under-represented at university.
Luke Sinnick Bristol University Socialist Students
The Bristol university newspaper, the Epigram, reported on a recent Channel 4 News investigation showing that out of the 16 elite 'Russell Group' universities, 13 failed to reach their own targets for accepting more applicants from state schools.
Bristol university was the worst; the proportion of students from state schools fell by almost 5% in 2005/06. Far from progressing towards their benchmark of 76%, the academic register shows that this has fallen by another 2% this year!
If these statistics are not damning enough, another article in the same issue detailed a recent report showing that the average salary of vice-chancellors at UK universities rose by 7.9% last year.
43 vice-chancellors now earn more than the prime minister! Among the 'Russell Group' this was even worse with an average pay increase of 8.2% to £217,927. At Bristol, our vice-chancellor awarded himself a 15% pay rise and now earns £226,000 a year!
In contrast, the BBC reported that the median graduate starting salary is predicted to increase by just 2.1% to £23,431, which is below inflation and the smallest predicted salary increase for six years. Coupled with the insulting increase in the minimum wage and the below-inflation public sector pay rise, it is easy to see who the government wishes to benefit.
This shows how out-of-touch these vice-chancellors are. Their wage is far removed from the annual household income of less than £38,000 that entitles you to some level of maintenance grant - only £1,500 for families earning less than £25,000.
This doesn't even cover accommodation costs and forces thousands of students into a huge amount of debt. Debt forces many students to work part-time on top of studying, which affects their academic performance and causes an ever-increasing number of students to drop out.
Universities need to be returned to full public control to ensure that access to higher education is available to all and not just a privileged minority.
In The Socialist 29 March 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Northern Ireland agreement
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news