Responding to the proposals in the Prime Minister's speech, Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: "Universities already work closely with schools and colleges to raise aspirations and attainment. This ranges from outreach programmes and summer schools, to curriculum improvement, working with teachers, and providing information on progression to higher education.
"Many universities have been sponsoring academies and involved in the establishment of new schools for some years now. Around half of universities in England sponsor a school.
"How this is done will vary enormously and depend on the university and on different local circumstances. It is important that any new proposals allow universities the flexibility to consider the evidence and target funding in a way that works best for the school and students to help raise attainment.
"We agree that prior school attainment is vital in terms of improving social mobility and there is more that universities can do in this area. This will be reflected in the recommendations of Universities UK's Social Mobility Advisory Group which is due to report later this month."