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Progress Slows in Closing the Attainment Gap

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The latest statistical release from UCAS shows that a record 19.7 percent of young people classified as living in the most disadvantaged areas of the UK were accepted through UCAS to start a course in September 2018.

This figure is up 0.4 percentage points from the previous year and represents an increase of 1.8 percent on a proportional basis, compared to 2017.

Despite the increase, those from the most advantaged areas of the UK are 2.3 times more likely to start an undergraduate course than those from the least advantaged areas.

The gap between the most and least advantaged closed slightly in 2018, with 46.5 percent of young people from the most advantaged areas securing a place at university or college. Whilst this represents an increase of 0.4 percentage points, it's a smaller proportional increase (0.8 percent) compared to the rise reported by those from the least advantaged areas.

Women in the UK remain more likely to enter higher education, with 38.3 percent of 18-year olds starting a course, compared to 28.0 percent of men of the same age.

Commenting on the latest findings, Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: "While it's encouraging to see record levels of students from the most disadvantaged areas going to university, the slow progress in closing the gap is disheartening."

"It's clear that targeted outreach activities need to continue, highlighting to students from all backgrounds the experience, challenge, and opportunities degree study can bring. Our independence puts us in a strong position to provide all universities and colleges with analytical insights to evaluate their work in supporting the most disadvantaged students."