The news that 1,540 students who received free school meals were accepted into all 24 Russell Group Universities combined in 2010-2011 highlights a fundamental problem in the British education system. Free school meals are often used as a barometer for social deprivation, as they act as a support mechanism. This shows that students from the poorest backgrounds are being frozen out from some of the country’s best higher education systems, creating a potentially huge gulf in the opportunities available to young people today. Department of Education statistics for 2012 showed that 18 per cent of children are eligible for free school meals nowadays, which in itself highlights a social problem. That the Russell Group responded to the statistics by arguing that the poorest students often don’t achieve the required grades speaks volumes about the problems in our education system today. This is a matter of huge importance that could impact on students’ future lives for years to come – and it is one that should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Wealth shouldn’t determine admissions success