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HMC concerns on help for state schools

Private school headteachers concerned over plans to support disadvantaged students.

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Image Credit: Martin Kraft

Recent plans to enable more state school students access to top universities have been criticised by leading private schools as it may lead to discrimination being shown towards students from the most prestigious schools such as Eton (pictured above).

This intervention originates from the Headmaster’s and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) which many of the most expensive private schools in the country belong to, who expressed their concerns over initiatives to help disadvantaged students. This is a response to plans from the higher education regulator in England to increase the number of disadvantaged students attending university by 6,500 each year, starting in 2024-2025.

Currently, there is an alarming difference between university attendance for advantaged and disadvantaged students, with advantaged students being six times more likely to attend prestigious universities. There have been attempts in the past to close the gap between state school and independent school students. The lifting of the student admissions cap in 2015 significantly increased the amount of students that can attend university, particularly those from minority backgrounds.

The Guardian reported that the head of HMC, Mike Buchanan, suggested that the number of international students in the UK should be reviewed rather than “deny places to UK students based on their class”

In a statement to Nouse, YUSU’s Working Class Officers stated:“ Now more than ever it is important that the University open themselves up to a more diverse range of people. University is the gateway to many of the jobs that have the ability to help change the world for the better. It is clear the current system, middle and upper class white dominated, is not doing this.
Perfect equality might be a pipedream to some, however I challenge anyone to dispute that we don’t all become wiser, more rounded people when exposed to different cultures and classes of people. This isn’t a political issue, this is a simple matter of utilitarianism. By opening doors in higher education to more people, all of us benefit."

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