Gavin Williamson, the UK Education Secretary has encouraged univerisites in their quest for diversity to move at a faster rate. He also also commended them for taking the initiative to reach out to different demographics of the population
In 1999, Tony Blair, the then prime minister of the UK, set a target for admissions into universities. He envisioned a country where over 50 percent of the youth in the country were transitioning from high school to universities or had at least reached college level in the country. 20 years later, the UK has met this target with about 50.2 of its population ranging from ages 17 to 30 have taken part in higher education.
This is an encouraging step in the right directions and it shows that the country has taken steps to into reaching out to demographics that would have otherwise been left out of the higher education system. It is estimated that over £1 billion is spent by universities in reaching to these groups. The question now becomes if this amount is achieving its intended purpose, if more people have been integrated into these high learning institutions and how much effort these schools are making in reaching out to these students.
National discourse on diversity
The reality is not enough is being done to address inequality and diversities in these schools as noted by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. He pointed out that these universities are just virtual signaling when they call for more diversity in their schools. In a letter to Universities UK, he described them as not doing enough to attract students from poor backgrounds, paying lip service while doing the opposite and failing to address issues with inequality.
In the letter, he continued by saying,
I want all universities, including the most selective, to do everything they can to help disadvantaged students access a world-class education, but they also need to keep them there and limit the numbers dropping out of courses. My message is clear – up your game and get on with it.
Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson is asking universities to do more for disadvantaged students & to do everything they can to ensure students complete their courses and reduce dropout rates 🎓
— DfE (@educationgovuk) September 26, 2019
Universities UK has come up with recommendations on how to address diversity. They will make inroads in ensuring that they reach to Asian, blacks and other minority groups in the UK to access the world-class education offered in these higher education institutions. Professor Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, concluded by saying that she agreed with all the measures being made by the education department. He also urged them to increase the student grant to encourage more students from poor backgrounds to access education.