Russell Group university outreach programmes appear to have floundered as half admitted fewer state school students than the previous year.
Durham, Exeter, Edinburgh, Warwick and Birmingham universities are among those where the proportion of state educated pupils has fallen, according to data published by Higher Education Statistical Agency (Hesa).
Last year Russell Group universities spent £254 million on “outreach” activities, aimed at encouraging more students from disadvantaged background to apply, with a further £270 million due to be spent in the year ahead.
Initiatives include bursaries, extra tutoring and support, and giving lower offers to those coming from state schools. Professor John Jerrim, an expert in social statistics at University College London’s Institute of Education, said the figures show that “very little progress is actually being made” despite millions being invested by Russell Group universities into outreach schemes.
“Universities are spending a lot of money on outreach,” he said. “But a lot of it isn’t evaluated so they don’t know if it’s working or not. They might be spending a lot of money on stuff that isn’t working.”