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Research Suggests Poorer Students Less Likely to Attend University

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

New research by charity Teach First has uncovered that young people in the wealthiest areas of England are 18 times more likely to go to university than those in the poorest.

The study found in areas of Derbyshire, only one in 20 young people progressed to university in 2015, compared with more than 80% in parts of Buckinghamshire.

Commenting on the findings, Universities Minister, Jo Johnson said figures were improving.

Mr Johnson said: "Recent UCAS data shows that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to go to university than ever before, but we agree there is more to do."

The charity used figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to highlight the area of Shirebrook in Derbyshire, where only 4.8% of young people started university in 2015.

By comparison, in Gerrads Cross North in Buckinghamshire, 87.2% of young people entered university in 2015.

In addition to variances in entry rates, Teach First also found disadvantaged young people choose different universities compared to their more privileged peers. A ComRes poll of 18-25 year olds found that 41% of the most advantaged students chose their university because it offered the best for what they wanted to study, compared to just 31% of the least advantaged.

In response to the findings, the charity called on the government to improve entry rates by writing off student debt to get better teachers into challenging schools. They suggested 20% of student debt could be cleared for those working for two years, increasing to 50% for those remaining in certain areas, or subject areas for five years.

It also called on universities to start offering university access programmes at primary level, as it's believed universities' access work is coming to late.