The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is charged with ensuring that Further Education establishments charging more than £6000 are doing everything they can to ensure people from a wide range of backgrounds have access to higher education. So far, this is pretty much every FE organisation - with most charging the maximum.
So how rigorous can the good people of the Office of Fair Access be in ensuring this is the case?
Well, last year they agreed access agreements with 230 institutions.
This year, applications for enhanced fees and the access programmes to justify the extra money were due in by April 1st. Decision day is July 11th.
That's 72 working days.
On the basis that OFFA works an 8 hour day, that's a grand total of 2.5 hours per institution.
Now of course, the (small) number of staff(currently 5 rising to 9, 4 part time) will split their resource.
But still - the ultimate sign off from say, the leader of Offa, Sir Martin Harris, on every agreement will be after 2.5 hours scruitiny at the most. I suspect the reality is it will be far less.
Is this really enough for Oxford University to explain why it offered more places to pupils living in Richmond Upon Thames last year (population 170000) than the whole of Scotland (pop. 5 million)? I fear not. I live in Richmond, and even I think that's wrong.
Someone really should expose this.Perhaps some of the journalsist in the national press who I know read this blog might take it up?