Degree apprenticeships can help tackle social justice problem at universities, says Halfon

Degree apprenticeships can and must play a significant role in boosting the number of disadvantaged students studying at university, Robert Halfon MP has said.

Halfon, as chair of the parliamentary Education Select Committee, gave the keynote speech at a Universities Alliance event at the end of April, and dedicated a significant portion of it to the “social justice problem in our universities”.

Statistics suggest that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are turning away from university altogether, as a ‘two-tier’ system develops where the most disadvantaged attend the lowest ranked providers.

He said: “I would like to see the elite universities properly being held to account for the numbers of disadvantaged students they admit and the support they receive whilst studying.”

“Perhaps we should regard universities as elite only if they are providing a real ladder of opportunity to the disadvantaged. Maybe universities should only be seen as ‘the best’ when they lead their students to well-paid job destinations and reduce Britain’s skills deficit.”

Degree apprenticeships, Halfon argued, can and must play a significant role in boosting the numbers of disadvantaged students studying at university.

Halfon said: “I believe that degree apprenticeships are key to fighting both social injustice in our higher education system, and boosting this country’s productivity.”

“Students earn as they learn, they do not incur mountains of debt, and they get good quality jobs at the end. They also help us meet our skills deficit, so they benefit society too.”

“We know that degree apprenticeships are expanding and I’m delighted that there are now over 100 universities on the register of apprenticeship training providers.”

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