From education to employment

Charities Invited to Work with The Office for Students to Accelerate Fair Access to University

Education charity, Impetus is bringing together a group of third sector organisations delivering frontline services, with the Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students, to discuss where to go next to help more disadvantaged young people access higher education.  

Only 28% of young people who are eligible for free school meals go to university, compared to 47% of their better off peers. They are also significantly underrepresented at the top universities, with other students attending at almost three times the rate of students eligible for free school meals. 

Universities are required to provide support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education, overseen by the Office for Students. But third sector organisations also play a vital role, working with schools to raise attainment, collaborating with universities to deliver widening participation partnerships, and reaching out to employers to support graduates into the labour market. With refreshed priorities from the OfS and a new round of access and participation plans due next year, it is crucial that the expertise of the third sector helps shape what this next stage looks like.  

The Forum will meet quarterly from October to discuss the greatest challenges facing the sector and identify solutions to help universities to widen access effectively and reflect social diversity. The thinking and best practice that comes out of the Forum will be shared with the wider HE sector and other interested stakeholders to help drive progress. 

Steve Haines, Director of Public Affairs at Impetus said: 

“Widening participation in higher education is vital if young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are to succeed in work and life – and is at the core of our mission at Impetus. We are looking forward to convening third sector organisations dedicated to widening access, putting them right at the heart of the higher education debate, and giving them the opportunity to share their knowledge with decision makers to help to make real progress in this area.” 

John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students said:  

“Actively engaging charities who are on the front line of widening participation and fair access to university is an important step. This forum will give us at the Office for Students vital insight, expertise and feedback, as we set out new expectations on the approach to regulating equality of opportunity, that rests on collaboration and partnerships, including the third sector.” 

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