Severe reductions to the Student Opportunity Allocation would strike a real blow to social mobility, a think tank has warned.
Michael Gunn, the chair of the university think tank Million+, has urged the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to ensure that the Student Opportunity Application is retained in full and is not subject to any further reductions.
Mr Gunn said: “The Student Opportunity Allocation is the last remaining direct funding from Government to support universities which recruit students from a wide range of backgrounds”.
He added: “The May 2010 Coalition Agreement highlighted the importance of social mobility in higher education but the Government has already scrapped the National Scholarship Programme a year early”.
Savings amounting to almost £200m are thought to be under consideration ahead of the annual letter from Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills and David Willets, minister for Universities and Science, to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The letter details the grant which the council will receive directly from the government for the next academic year.
Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of Million+ said: “to lose this funding would be a real disaster, especially following the recently announced withdrawal of £100m from the National Scholarship Programme a year early.”
She added: “It appears that universities that are doing most of the heavy lifting in social mobility are the ones paying the price for the expansion of student numbers”.