Manchester University’s student union is set to appoint working class student officers to fight for the rights of less well-off undergraduates at the university.
The two officers will “act as a voice for working class students”, offering a forum for their concerns.
The recruitment drive follows a series of reports looking into the attainment gap between working and middle class students.
While the government’s social mobility commission that found that white, disadvantaged children are the least likely to attend university, data released last year showed that the overall proportion of poorer students attending the country’s best universities has fallen in the last decade.
A union spokesperson told the Sun that the scrapping of maintenance grants and the cutting of the Manchester Bursary also highlighted the need for dedicated officers to represent the concerns of working class students.
“We hope to ensure that students at universities have a good experience regardless of background and opportunity,” they told The Huffington Post UK.
Applicants for the roles must “self-identify as working class” and either be the recipient of the Manchester Bursary, a care leaver or the first in their family to go to university. One of the positions has been reserved for a woman.
Manchester University follows in the footsteps of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and King’s College London in trying to make the voice of these students heard at university by appointing specialist officers.
The decision was criticised by some as patronising, while others slammed it as a typical act of “generation snowflake”.
“There’s nothing more anti-working class than the assumption that working class undergraduates need a ‘class liberation officer’ to protect them,” Jacob Furedi tweeted.
However, the union defended the move, saying the role was important in protecting working class students from “microaggressions” and classism.