Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP Criticises Government record on university access for the disadvantaged

10.35.57am BST (GMT +0100) Thu 19th Oct 2006

Campaigning against top-up fees (photography: Tim Pollard)

Stephen Williams MP campaigning against top-up fees with Bristol University students and Cabot Councillor Mark Wright.

During the House of Commons education question time Bristol West MP, Stephen Williams, called into question the effectiveness of a government campaign to improve access to university for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The government's "Aimhigher" campaign was launched in 2004 to widen university participation and inform potential students of the financial support available to them. However, Mr Williams has highlighted the government's own media analysis showing that the campaign has been ineffective in reaching the most disadvantaged groups in society. Only around 20% of people in social groups D and E had been reached by the campaign.

Commenting on the analysis Mr Williams said:

"The government has spent a large amount on a blunderbuss media campaign that has failed to reach its target audience. It would be better to spend time in the schools and colleges that have low numbers of students participating in higher education."

Stephen Williams obtained the government commissioned media analysis report of the Aimhigher student finance campaign for January to March 2006 through a freedom of information request. This document is available upon request.

The report shows that the percentage of adults reached by the coverage, broken down by socio-economic group, was A: 64%, B: 57%, C1: 40%, C2: 29%, D: 21% and E: 20%

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