Commenting on HESA’s widening participation performance indicators, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:
“These statistics show a continued improvement in the proportions of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in higher education. There are more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education now than ever before – thanks to sustained improvements in the last decade.
“However, these figures show us that the rate of change is too incremental. We need a step-change in progress to ensure that everyone with the talent to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so, whatever their background. At the moment, talent is being wasted on an industrial scale – with people that could excel in higher education still being held back by where they come from. Universities and colleges have done well to widen access to higher education, but now it is time for them – under the regulation of the new Office for Students – to seize the opportunity to make changes which will benefit a whole generation.”