Lib Dems Call For Student Diversity To Be Improved
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The Lib Dems can "rise to the challenge" of improving diversity of entrants to elite universities without compromising academic independence and standards, deputy leader Simon Hughes has said.
Mr Hughes, who is the Coalition Government's Advocate for Access to Education told members at the party's autumn conference in Birmingham there was cause to be "optimistic and not pessimistic" about the issue "against the background of failure sadly under previous administrations".
He said mentors and former students could play an important role in schools in inspiring and encouraging pupils.
He added he hoped staff in all schools and sixth form colleges would offer the opportunity to students to consider applying to Oxbridge or other universities.
He said: "There are many schools which never look at university at all and then we need to make sure that universities do outreach into every school, so that the links are continually established."
Speaking during a question and answer session on social mobility, Mr Hughes added it was imperative students understood the "financial ordering of the new regime", including no fees upfront and only paying according to ability to pay.
Mr Hughes said the party was determined to have a fairer society, stating both Tory and Labour parties had "tried and failed and we are probably the only people who in the foreseeable future are determined to deliver".
Fellow panellist, Children's Minister Sarah Teather said it was important students had access to quality teaching no matter what their background.