The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has produced a map illustrating what has been referred to as "cold spots" in entry rates and degree places into university. Such areas include East Anglia and significant parts of the south-west.
Madeleine Atkins, chief of HEFCE, says that higher education plays a "critical role" in crafting a skilled workforce. There are concerns that for those areas where university places are in short availability and the desire to apply is low, the local economic growth could be severely affected. As Atkins notes, higher education is vital to the growth of economies and the council's research demonstrated that there is a clear link between higher graduate numbers and lower levels of unemployment. Furthermore, the council's map reveals high provision in and around London, a corridor up through the midlands and in the north-west of England. These "cold spots" seem to be located in the east of England, the south-west and along the border with Wales.
The report also indicates that while there may be university places available in certain areas, there seem to be a high number of "subject deserts" - where some subjects are not accessible. In addition, the research has signified the proportion of young people that apply to go to university highlighting coastal regions, the east and north-east with particularly low entry numbers. Areas that are in close proximity have showed profoundly varying results with areas of London having extremely high entry numbers, with the east of London, just down the Thames around Dartford and Thurrock showing some of the lowest entry levels in the country.