Redbrick uni to lower entry requirements for poorer students
Bristol Uni announce they'll be lowering entry requirements for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, in a quest to diversify student intake.Credit: Rob Brewer – FlickrThe University of Bristol has announced they’re launching a new scholarship program – aptly named 'The Bristol Scholars Project' – in a quest to boost diversity by increasing its number of students from challenging backgrounds.
The uni say they’ll make offers two grades lower than the standard offer for poorer students at every local school in Bristol, as well as schools in England and Wales that score in the lowest 40% for A-level results.
This news comes after UCAS revealed this week that disadvantaged students are four times less likely to apply for university in the UK than those from more affluent backgrounds.
Despite the government’s proclaimed efforts to improve fair access to education, UCAS’s figures reveal that the gap between rich and poor university applicants is now wider than ever reported, at 16.7%.
How will successful students be chosen?
For every local school in Bristol, the university will also reserve spaces for five ‘high potential’ students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Head teachers will choose which students should be put forward, and candidates will be judged based on potential and progress at school rather than just exam results.
The university say they’ll give priority to students who meet certain criteria including if they qualify for free school meals, if they’ve ever been in care or are a carer for a family member, or if they’re the first in their family to apply for university.
18-year-old Marbel Chawatama, who has just been conditionally accepted to study Law at Bristol next year as part of the scholarship has said:
I was honoured to find out I’d been nominated to be a Bristol Scholar. I know a lot of people want to go to the University of Bristol but don't get the opportunity. I felt really blessed.
Why is the gap getting wider?
UCAS's figures show that whilst the number of applicants from both demographics is increasing, the number of wealthy applicants is growing much faster than those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which in turn is causing the gap to widen.
However, it's unsurprising that students from poorer backgrounds aren't jumping at the chance to apply to uni this year.
Who wouldn't be put off by the news that tuition fees are going up again (for new and current students) and maintenance grants have been scrapped, only to be replaced with ever-so-slightly higher loans – which still leave students with an average £250 shortfall to cover each month.
The good news is Bristol have said they'll also be offering additional financial support to applicants admitted through the scholarship scheme with a household income of less than £25,000. This includes free tuition for their first year at the uni, plus an additional £3,750 per year of study.
Earlier this year, Cambridge also announced they'd be offering their own ‘studentship’ grant of £9,750 per year in order to prevent those from disadvantaged backgrounds from being put off university.
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