Degrees of privilege

IF Founder Barbara Gunnell's recent piece for Open Democracy addresses the inequality in access to higher education in the UK today.

Read an extract below, or the full piece here.

"The pretence that the university system today is still broadly meritocratic is becoming harder to sustain. It rests on two pillars of faith: firstly, that access to university is via ability rather than class, race or social status; and, secondly, that money worries need not deter any school-leaver with the will and ability to go to university.

But the first pillar is crumbling under the weight of evidence that access to university, particularly higher-status universities, is far from equal. The second is contradicted by watching working-class families simply priced out of higher education. They have been hit first by the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance which had helped families keep 16-19 year olds in school long enough to take A-levels, and then by the daunting debt burden of three years of university fees and living costs."