Commenting on the Department for Educations proposal to reduce Uni Connect funding from 2021-22, Dr Richard Boffey, Deputy Head of Access HE said;
“The DfE’s suggested allocation of £40m to Uni Connect represents a cut of one third of the programme budget.
This cut is likely to impact on widening access and participation work across the country, but the impact will be felt most acutely in London, where HE providers are already facing the removal of London Weighting and the budgetary constraints this brings with it.
As we outlined in our blog late last year, In a city where more young people from socio-economically deprived backgrounds enter HE than anywhere else in the country, the need for high-quality, impartial HE outreach, advice and guidance is self-evident.
The events of the past year and their effect on pre-existing educational inequalities only serve to further underline this. Thanks to Uni Connect, more than 2000 young people in north London alone have been able to access HE outreach activity and resources via online channels since the onset of the pandemic.
Without sufficient funding to sustain the programme, this established infrastructure through which young Londoners can level up their life chances through HE is at risk of falling away, especially if HE providers in the capital are also operating with reduced financial headroom.
Uni Connect partnerships now await confirmation of their final funding allocation from the OfS. It is imperative that this happens as quickly as possible to ensure there is longer-term clarity about staff posts connected to the programme funding, and about the level at which Uni Connect activity can reasonably continue into 2021-22.”