by Max Clarke

Universities minister David Willetts stated today that he expects universities who want to charge over £6000 a year in tuition fees to do all they can to help students from poorer backgrounds.

Mr Willetts has released an early draft of a guidance letter to the Director of Fair Access, saying that universities must commit to the new national scholarship programme and invest in helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential and desire to go to university.

Universities Minister David Willetts said:
“Going to university is a life changing experience and one of the greatest drivers of social mobility. That’s why I’m absolutely committed to making sure that anyone who wants to go to university should be able to go, no matter what their family background is.

Despite such measures, research published earlier this year by the Sutton Trust indicated that families from deprived backgrounds would be far less likely apply to university in the first place if the figure exceeded £7,000.

Students protesting the proposed fee rises of up to £9,000 have resorted to direct action in the form of university sit-ins and widespread protesting including the infamous Millbank Riots in which the Tory HQ was occupied by enraged students, resulting in £1,000,000 in damages.

“I’m emphasising to our universities that if they want to charge over £6,000 a year to our undergraduates, then I am looking to them to do everything they can to make sure they are attracting our brightest and best students." Continued Willets.

“Only by Government and universities working together to make sure that we’re fostering the very best talent will we continue to have a world class and competitive university sector.”

The draft letter stresses the importance of universities considering how they attract and support students from under-represented groups to progress to Higher Education through their outreach and other activities.