The Russell Group, an organisation representing 24 leading universities in the UK, has released a report detailing their aims to reduce inequalities in the education sector within universities.
The ‘Pathways to Potential’ report details the present inequalities for disadvantaged students when accessing higher education, highlighting key gaps present in social, geographic, and minority student equality still being present despite the rise of under-represented groups attending such universities.
The report details a plan of action contingent on three main points: (a) ensuring that universities will commit to acting upon these commitments and demonstrating the necessary changes; (b) ensuring that there are the correct incentives in place facilitate this commitment to narrowing the inequality gap; (c) enacting wider change in the education system to tackle the roots of this inequality.
There is still a long way to go before these opportunities are genuinely available across all parts of the country
– Chris Millward
The report stresses the need to challenge causes within the education system that enable such inequalities to persist, stating that simply changing university standards and practices will not eliminate the lack of educational equality.
The report follows the Office for Students 2018 aims of reducing the inequality within universities throughout the next 20 years.
Suggested methods of reforming the education system in order to challenge current inequalities include creating a government office specifically to challenge the issue, making the National Pupil Database more widely accessible, and adopting a new national strategy directly responsible for tackling inequality within education, with sustained political support and cross department accountability.
Chris Millward, the director of Fair Access Participation at the Office for Students, responded positively to the report, stating: “We support the Russell Group’s aim for universities to be able to access more individualised data so they can identify those students who are most critically disadvantaged.
“There is still a long way to go before these opportunities are genuinely available across all parts of the country”.