Initiatives include bursaries, extra tutoring and support, and giving lower offers to those coming from state schools But students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to drop out of university than their wealthier peers for a variety of possible reasons.
They are less likely to have family or friends who went to university meaning they may not know what to expect, and they may struggle academically if they have gone to a school that do not usually send pupils on to higher education.
Mr Hinds said that while universities have made “huge progress” in admitting more from students from disadvantaged backgrounds, this is undermined by the increased drop out rates.
“Universities need to look at these statistics and take action to reduce drop-out rates,” he said.
“If they don’t, we have given the Office for Students power to take action. I expect them to do that and challenge institutions to look at what support they can offer – particularly to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups – to turn these figures around.”
He said that universities with the highest drop-out rates that their figures give the impression that they are more interested in getting “bums on seats” than offering support for students throughout their degree.