A social chasm still exists between state and private school pupils while at university, new research will claim today. This is from the Independent…
The findings of a research project jointly mounted by Bristol University and UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) will say this is largely triggered by accommodation costs – with students saying the more expensive university accommodation will be snapped up by those who are better off while poorer students will opt for cheaper accommodation.
“There was a social chasm between private and state school students, often exacerbated by university accommodation costs,” according to the report.
The study of 40 students from each university also goes on to show that working class students have a very different experience of university life than their middle class counterparts.
“The team found that getting in to university was seen as normal, even expected for many middle class youngsters while for working class students it was usually a choice that required more consideration, effort and strategic planning and was often a hope rather than an expectation,” says the report.
“Many working-class parents were unable to help with the university application process but did provide emotional support and encouragement.”
It adds: “Once at university working-class students faced considerable economic hardships, while middle-class students were cushioned by their parents’ financial support.
“Financial constraints limited working-class students in terms of extra-curricular activities – with many of them having to work in mundane jobs during term-time – unlike a lot of those from wealthier backgrounds.”
However, one bonus point for the more disadvantaged students was that their experiences instilled in them a sense of resilience which stood them in good stead when they entered the world of work.
Middle class students, though, were far more able to draw upon family resources and had access to influential social networks to help them get work experience or internships while they studied – crucial in accessing employment.
Is there anything actually surprising in this story? It seems to be telling us people from wealthy families generally have a better standard of living and more opportunities than those from poorer families. Even when students received grants and free tuition, surely it was ever thus? Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…