THE National Union of Students gave a cautious welcome for a radical overhaul of the university admissions process yesterday.
Universities were given the green light to choose students from ethnic minorities over other applicants, in order to increase diversity at college.
The government's task-force on higher education admissions recommends that no student should automatically be treated more favourably because of their background.
Brunel University professor Steven Schwartz who chaired the task-force, added: "There really is a compelling educational reason for having a diverse student body."
He said that diversity can be defined by race, religion or class background, among other factors.
And he suggested that, where two applicants are of the same basic academic ability, universities might want to choose the student with the more "diverse" background.
However, NUS vice-president for education Hannah Essex noted that, while the recommendations might make the admissions process fairer, there are many barriers which students need to overcome to gain access to higher education.
"This includes the increasing cost of studying and rising levels of graduate debt which will be only made worse by the introduction of top-up fees in 2006.
"In any case, the introduction of the market into HE means that, as the elite institutions move towards more private funding, such as research contracts and student fees, it is less likely that they will need, or want, to commit to government recommendations on promoting fair access and admissions," she added.
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The Con-Dems have had it their way too long. We have to turn this country around