Commenting on figures published today by UCAS (Undergraduate 2014 end of cycle report) showing that higher education entry rates among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds continued to rise in 2014, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:
“It is excellent news that entry rates among the most disadvantaged young people continue to increase [note 1] and that they are at new record levels in universities with the highest entry requirements, rising 40 per cent in three years. [note 2]
“But a 40 per cent rise on a small number only adds up to another small number [note 3]. The reality is that people from the least advantaged backgrounds are still shockingly under-represented in highly selective universities, even after these recent increases. Only 3 per cent of disadvantaged 18 year olds enter highly selective universities, compared to 21 per cent of young people from the most advantaged backgrounds.
“So while change is starting to happen, there is a lot further to go before we achieve true equality of opportunity for everyone who has the ability and the ambition to go to higher education.”
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Notes to editors
1. In England the entry rate to higher education for disadvantaged 18 year olds increased by 1.7 percentage points (11 per cent proportionally) to 18.2 per cent, making disadvantaged young people in England a third more likely to enter university in 2014 than five years ago. Entry rates for this group in England have increased every year since 2006 and they are now 60 per cent more likely to enter higher education than in 2006.
2. Young people in the most disadvantaged areas of England were 13 per cent more likely to enter a higher tariff institution in 2014 than in 2013, and around 40 per cent more likely than three years ago. For 18 year olds in England the entry rates to higher tariff institutions are now 3.2 per cent for the most disadvantaged fifth of areas to 21.3 per cent for the most advantaged fifth of areas. These are the highest entry rates recorded for each group.
3. Because only very few people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds enter highly selective universities (4,040 in 2014, compared to 3,105 in 2011), the 40 per cent proportional increase translates to less than one percentage point increase for the most disadvantaged group (from 2.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent).