It is worse than regrettable that the Higher Education Funding Council cap on student numbers (Oxford Mail, March 30) has hit Oxford Brookes University’s plans for expansion of foundation degree courses at its partner colleges.

Yet some of these colleges, including Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, have for years now been running Access to Higher Education diploma courses for mature students and local residents, including a significant cohort of students who have made their homes here in Oxford in flight from strife and persecution in the world’s humanitarian disaster areas, so it must he hoped that Brookes will continue to offer places to access students, who have brought to Oxford an immense diversity of skills and talent (and, given the chance, much still to come).

The closing down by the Government of both the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the Adult Learning Grant has, however, made study for access students (and many other students in FE) perilous and difficult, often having to balance paid employment with childcare, for example.

Some 26,500 access diplomas were awarded in 2009-10, the last year for which figures are available Financial pressures may well wipe access off the map and so deny opportunity for life-long learning and educational and professional enhancement to many Oxonians. A great loss, to Oxford and beyond.

BRUCE ROSS-SMITH, (Lecturer, Access to Higher Education for Speakers of Languages Other Than English/International Study Programme Teacher, Bowness Avenue, Headington