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Nearly two thousand Reading students benefit from University bursary scheme – University of Reading

Release Date : 26 March 2009

The University of Reading has increased the support it offers to almost 2000 students through its bursary scheme, according to the latest report from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA)₁.

In 2007/8, the University increased its spend on bursaries to over £2 million, increasing the proportion of fee income spent annually on bursaries from 22.3% to 26.0%. The University's overall expenditure on access schemes has now risen to £2.4 million.

Rob Robson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the University, said: "Our policy is to recruit the most able students, regardless of financial background. Since the Government introduced variable student fees in 2006, we have been working hard to ensure that the increased cost of education does not disadvantage poorer students. Through our bursary scheme we are able to support over 1900 of our students who currently benefit from bursaries of up to £1300 a year. This coming year, we expect to increase the amount we spend supporting our students yet again. This is likely to be more crucial for students in the current financial climate."

The Bursary is available to all UK undergraduate students who satisfy the entry requirements of their chosen course and have a household income of £45,000 or less in 2008-09. The University of Reading awards the maximum amount of £1300 to students whose household income is less than £25,000, according to its Access Agreement with OFFA.

In addition to the financial support the University offers students, the University's Widening Participation Office also plays a fundamental role in encouraging pupils from under-represented groups to continue their studies into higher education.

Carole Ebsworth, University of Reading Widening Participation Officer, said: "There are still marked differences in participation rates in higher education - social class, gender and, especially, attainment levels at different secondary schools are still major factors affecting whether young people make it to university.

"Financial support makes a real difference once they get there but there are lots of other ways that we can encourage better take up of places in higher education. Through our Widening Participation Schemes, around 12,000 young people every year come into contact with higher education at Reading. We provide opportunities for them to access university facilities, to experience life on campus, and we send out our students into schools as mentors and ambassadors for higher education. We see our role as inspiring young people to consider university as an option, wherever they choose to study."

For students starting their studies in 2008-09, the University offered a £1350 Bursary if household income is less than £25,000; £900 if less than £35,000; £450 if less than £45,000. It is available (dependent on eligibility) for the duration of the course, subject to application for student financial support each year. The Bursary provides support, which is dependent on a Local Authority means test of household income.

More information on


Further information from Alex Brannen, Media Relations Manager, on 0118 378 7388

Notes to editors:

₁Report available through


The Government introduced tuition fees in 2006. In 2007/8, in accordance with OFFA guidelines, the University of Reading charged undergraduate tuition fees of £3,070. The minimum relevant bursary, in line with OFFA guidelines is £305. However, the University of Reading offered bursaries up to £1300.

University of Reading

• The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The quality and diversity of the University's research and teaching is recognised internationally as one of the top 200 universities in the world.

• Example of Widening Participation Scheme - The Aimhigher programme, 'Making Progress' targets pupils aged 14–17 in all 26 Berkshire state secondary schools with below average attainment at GCSE. Around 98 per cent of participants of this scheme have no parental experience of higher education. The scheme supports pupils through mentoring, taster days and a three-day Easter School at the University, among other initiatives. Subsequently, 79 per cent of the participants achieved five A*-Cs at GCSE in comparison with an average of 36 per cent in their home schools.


• The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) was established under the Higher Education Act 2004. Its role is to safeguard and promote fair access to higher education by regulating the charging of higher fees. This is done by approving and monitoring access agreements.

• All publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England that wish to charge tuition fees above the basic level have to submit an access agreement to OFFA for approval. Access agreements show the fees that an institution intends to charge, its plans for bursaries and other financial support for lower income and other under-represented groups and, in some cases, additional outreach work.


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