UNIVERSITIES in Merseyside are failing to admit enough poor students who grew up eligible for free school meals, a government adviser has said.
Alan Milburn, the coalition’s adviser on social mobility, suggested at least 10% of students at each institution should come from a struggling background.
He quoted figures which showed no university in Merseyside or Cheshire reached that benchmark for students admitted between 2005 and 2008, the most recent statistics available.
But the University of Liverpool pointed out it had the second highest proportion of students in the Russell Group of 24 leading institutions with a family income of less than £25,000.
And it revealed it was drawing up plans to use “contextual data” – taking into account a student’s background – when deciding who to accept.
Arguing it spent £15m each year on bursaries and scholarships, a spokeswoman said: “The University is recognised nationally as one of the UK leaders in widening participation.”