News' Emily Roberts reports on the campaign spending of the Conservative candidate for West Midlands Mayor, Andy StreetWritten by Emily Roberts on 27th April 2017
UoB To Offer Tuition For Disadvantaged A-Level Students To ‘Improve Diversity’
The scheme will offer 100 students 10 hours of free online tuition in preparation for their summer exams
The University of Birmingham is set to launch a pilot scheme to offer A-level students from poorer backgrounds more opportunities to attend university. The scheme is said to be an effort by the university to increase diversity. The scheme is a partnership between the university and an online tutor company called MyTutor, and will offer 100 students 10 hours of free online tuition in preparation for their summer exams. The pilot is due to launch next month and, if the trial is successful, the university plans to expand it.
Birmingham already operates the Access to Birmingham (A2B) programme which intends to help further the education of students from deprived backgrounds in Birmingham. Qualifying criteria includes having parents without higher education qualifications, living in areas in which few people attend university and having spent time in care. The University also opened a secondary school in September 2015, with an admissions policy aimed at enrolling students from deprived areas of the city. By the time the school opened, it had already become the most oversubscribed comprehensive school in its local authority.
The University of Birmingham has previously lowered its entry requirements for students applying through the A2B scheme, making the grades required to enroll on a course two grades lower than it is for students applying without the programme. Despite the efforts made by the University, students can be seen to still struggle to gain places. Around one in three pupils who apply through the programme achieve the necessary grades, which leads to the places reserved for students from poorer backgrounds being re-allocated to other students.
Other Russell Group universities, including the University of Bristol have announced plans to lower entry grades for disadvantaged students. Bristol also said the initiative was designed to increase diversity among its students, partly by offering local students offers based on lower entry requirements. The announcement made in December 2016 came after data from UCAS revealed students who receive free school meals were less than half as likely to enter higher education than those who did not. Overall, the UK university acceptance rate for more advantaged students is increasing at a faster rate than disadvantaged students who receive free school meals (up 1.4 % to 32.8% vs. up 0.3% to 16.1%). UCAS said the 16.7 percentage point difference is the ‘largest recorded value’ between both groups.
Last summer, Oxford University College announced it will increase the number of places by 10% in an effort to widen access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The college pledges to offer students an ‘intensive’ four-week bridging programme in the summer before they start their degree which aims to improve their key academic skills.
Gail Rothnie, head of outreach at the University of Birmingham said, ‘Every year there are a significant number who don't achieve their offer. There are a large number of students who don't meet their predicted grades’.
James Grant, founder of the MyTutor online teaching company, said that universities in Yorkshire, including Leeds and Huddersfield, are also interested in investing in extra tutoring for children.