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Access for all at the University of Sussex

* 11 December 2003 *

Access for all at the University of Sussex

Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to join the University of Sussex through range of activities and events designed to widen participation in higher education.  

Figures released by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) reveal the University of Sussex is doing well in attracting students from state schools and colleges.

Professor Alasdair Smith, Vice-Chancellor said: "Sussex is a very successful and popular university attracting high-quality applicants, and we have a good social mix of students. Already, 85 per cent of our students come from state schools, which is well above our benchmark of 77 per cent."

However, the HEFCE report also shows many leading institutions, including Sussex, are not reaching the benchmark for admitting students from the three lowest socio-economic groups. The data used relate to students taken in during the 2001/2002 entry.

Prof Smith said: "We are working hard to encourage students from all backgrounds to come here, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The figures published today are two years old. Last year, we estimate we improved our intake significantly to 18 per cent, just short of our benchmark of 20 per cent."

The university is now involved in many schemes aimed at pupils from the lower socio-economic groups:

Prof Smith said: "A lot of this is to do with raising young people's aspirations, and helping them to see University as something that they can aim for. This is a long-term programme and we expect it to have a positive effect in future years."

Prof Smith is keen to stress widening participation relates to students of all ages and circumstances. He added: "We also have a well deserved reputation for attracting and retaining a high number of mature students (currently 22 per cent of our students) and disabled students (seven per cent). Sussex is rightly proud of the opportunities we offer to everyone."

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