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UCAS Announces Financial Support for FSM Students

UCAS have announced that they will be providing more support for students receiving Free School Meals. The new initiative, beginning September 2024, will mean that students in receipt of Free School Meals will no longer have to pay the £28.50 application fee. 

The initiative aims to encourage more students from low-income families to apply for university. This is based on the disparity between identified:

  • In England, 19.1% of 18-year-olds eligible for free school meals go on to university, compared to 36.4% of those who do not claim free school meals.
  • In a new survey by Teacher Tapp, nearly two in three teachers agreed the fee waiver would help FSM students to progress to higher education.

Lewis, aged 17, from Lincolnshire, receives free school meals. He is looking to apply to Japanese studies with Linguistics in 2025. He said: “Waiving the UCAS application fee will mean it’s less of a burden on me and students like me, when finances can be stretched. It won’t seem as much of a stretch. As one of five children in my family, I have to work a part-time job as I don’t like asking my mum for money. For me, the £28.50 would be the equivalent of working a five-hour shift at my work, just to apply.”

UCAS have also announced that applicants will soon be able to view historic entry grades data and offer rates displayed for each course. The tool will show students both offer rates and the historic grades held by previous successful applicants on admission to a particular course, alongside the listed entry requirements published by universities. This comes after previous UCAS research found nearly half (49%) of applicants were admitted with lower than published entry requirements. This measure aims to increase the transparency around the admissions process, and coupled with the removal of application fees for FSM students, it will hopefully provide young people with accurate information they need to be able to make informed, and more so, ambitious choices.  

Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Going to university can be a transformative experience. Indeed, a recent poll showed that almost a third of students who were the first in their family to attend university described it as ‘the best decision they have made’. So it can’t be right that you are much less likely to go to university if you received free school meals". 


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