By Max Clarke

Guidance to Universities published today by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) outlines what steps universities must take if they are to charge more than £6,000 a year.

Institutions charging in excess of £6,000 a year are obliged to reach an agreement with the OFFA. Among measures to be introduced, universities are being asked to: participate in the new National Scholarship Programme; to increase expenditure on targeted outreach and; to better target bursaries and financial support.

Director of Fair Access at OFFA, Sir Martin Harris, commented:

“We want all institutions to focus more on outcomes. It is true that much progress has already been made in widening participation to the sector as a whole — over the last five years alone the chances of a young person from the lowest participation neighbourhood going to university has increased by 30 per cent. But progress in improving access to the most selective universities has remained virtually flat.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts also commented on the new guidance:

“Universities are being asked to work much harder to recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the future. The Director has moved quickly to give universities clarity about what he expects from them on access.

“The Government has been clear that universities charging more than £6,000 who are not meeting their access benchmarks should redouble their efforts to widen participation. There is a range of good practice across the sector to draw on, as well as the new National Scholarship Programme which the Government is match-funding.”