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Foreword

Impact Report

04

As the fair access regulator, my job is to challenge and support

universities and colleges to improve access to higher education.

An important part of that is to recognise and celebrate positive

impact where it is being made. I am delighted to be able to do

that here.

Fair access in England is a

national success story, with

more young people from

disadvantaged backgrounds

entering higher education than

ever before, and organisations

like the Realising Opportunities

Partnership have played an

important part in achieving

those record participation rates.

As this report shows, Realising

Opportunities can demonstrate

that it is changing the lives of

numerous young people for the

better.

Of course, there is still a lot

further to go across the whole

sector, and especially at the most

selective universities, until we

have true meritocracy in access

and outcomes. Tough challenges

remain, with students from the

most advantaged backgrounds

still over twice as likely to enter

higher education as the least

advantaged.

Further, faster progress is needed

and collaboration will be key

to that – but in an increasingly

competitive higher education

sector, collaboration brings

its own challenges. So I am

encouraged to see in this report

how the partner institutions within

Realising Opportunities are

making joint working work at every

stage of the student lifecycle.

After all, improving participation

in the sector as a whole benefits

everyone. It enriches the lives

of individuals, contributes to

economic growth and boosts

social mobility. Most importantly,

we owe it to those students with

the potential to achieve great

outcomes who may otherwise

miss out.

Higher education changes

lives and should be equally

available to all with the talent

to benefit from it, regardless of

background. Yet for many of the

students involved in Realising

Opportunities, who are likely to be

the first in their families to go to

university, higher education may

seem a world away. The Realising

Opportunities programme may

be the first time they have ever

been on a university campus

and the importance of this first

hand experience cannot be

underestimated.

While universities cannot solve

the problem of fair access all by

themselves, and many others

across the whole education sector

also have a role, if we are to truly

level the playing field, the work

of the Realising Opportunities

Partnership is more vital than ever.

I look forward to seeing it go from

strength to even greater strength

in the years to come.

Professor Les Ebdon,

Director of Fair Access to

Higher Education