Universities to Split as 2-tier System Arises

A leading youth charity has warned that the cost of living could create a “two-tier” university system. The Social Mobility Foundation has said it’s “concerned” those from poorer backgrounds may have to work while affluent peers enjoy the “uni experience”.

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“It’s never been a level playing field,” Sarah Atkinson, the chief executive, says.

“But we’re looking at a two-tier system for this cohort,” she adds.

Alongside extra work, Sarah says more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds worry about money and live at home while studying.

In recent weeks, students’ unions have said they are hearing more stories of financial hardship among their members. According to one survey, almost half of students have considered dropping out because of money worries.

The Social Mobility Foundation has called on universities to do more to support students from poorer backgrounds. It also wants the government to reintroduce maintenance grants for low-income students.

What do you think about the cost of living and university? Are you from a poorer background and have concerns about affording university? Let us know in the comments.

But the government has said it is “committed to ensuring everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so”.

A spokesperson added that the government was “investing heavily” in maintenance grants and other financial support.

Sarah says she’s not convinced this is enough. “We need to think about how we can make sure students from all backgrounds can succeed,” she says. “Otherwise, we’re just creating a two-tier system.”

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According to the Social Mobility Foundation, students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are half as likely to go to university as their more affluent peers.

And those who do go are less likely to get good degrees and end up in well-paid jobs. This can create a vicious cycle of disadvantage, which is hard to break.

The charity is calling on universities to do more to support students from poorer backgrounds. It also wants the government to reintroduce maintenance grants for low-income students.

But the government has said it is “committed to ensuring everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so”.

A spokesperson added that the government was “investing heavily” in maintenance grants and other financial support.

Sarah says she’s not convinced this is enough. “We need to think about how we can make sure students from all backgrounds can succeed,” she says. “Otherwise, we’re just creating a two-tier system.”

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