An “unacceptably stark” difference remains between the number of rich and poor students choosing to study for a degree, says the head of the universities funding body. This is from the Telegraph…
Teenagers from poorer backgrounds remain much less likely to go to university, and to study at a top institution, according to a report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
It warns that some universities could run into trouble if they fail to attract enough students and raises concerns about a slump in the numbers of people studying part time.
The new study looks at the impact of reforms to higher education funding.
Tuition fees were trebled last autumn, with new undergraduates now charged up to £9,000 a year for a degree course.
Graduates begin paying student loans back once they are earning at least £21,000.
The study says that while the evidence shows that the reforms have not made poorer youngsters less likely to study full time, there are still “significant gaps” between students.
Sir Alan Langlands of the HEFCE said: “Although recent positive trends in widening participation appear to have been sustained in the first year of the reforms, disparities in the recruitment and retention of students by social background and gender remain unacceptably stark.”
Official data, published by Ucas, shows that 18 year-olds from the wealthiest areas are still three times more likely to apply to university than those from the poorest areas, the report says.
Successful entries to universities that require top A-level grades are six to nine times greater for students from advantaged areas. The study says the impact of the reforms on encouraging more disadvantaged young people to go to university is not yet known and needs to be monitored.