Give the boys a chance – Universities asked to target more white, working-class males in their admissions process

11 January 2013

Universities will be asked to target more white, working-class boys in their admissions process, following suggestions from Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. Plans will be made to categorize white males alongside ethnic minorities in university access schemes.

Mr. Willett’s comments came amidst the news of a massive plunge in numbers of university applications from male students. In Autumn, some 54,000 less men applied, a 13% drop on 2011. The drop in applications from women was only a quarter of that.

Universities are obliged to sign access agreements in order to be able to charge fees higher than £6000 per year. By listing white teenage boys of underprivileged backgrounds in this agreement, universities will have to make a greater effort to target students from an already under-represented segment of the population.

A spokesperson for the University Access Division issued a statement for The Cambridge Student: “The University does not have targets based on ethnicity or social class. However, there is a relationship between participation and social class – by widening participation we also expand the social mix at the university.”

“Our admissions policy is needs-blind and our extensive and flexible financial support package seeks to ensure that no suitably qualified applicant need be deterred from applying for financial reasons.”

However, not everyone is overly convinced by the idea. Edward Penn, from Churchill College, fits into the targeted demographic.

He felt it was “sadly often too late by the time students come to apply to university to repair the damage done by a vastly unequal system of education.”

“To rely on universities to fill the hole left by an underfunded and exhausted public education system is simply unfeasible.”

When universities are already under significant pressure to meet government-assigned access quotas, Willetts’ plans will only increase the problem.

Freddie Green – News Reporter

Photo – Jimmy Appleton