More undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds, despite rises in fees

The BBC is reporting that the new Universities UK report shows universities have broadened access to higher education to include more students from disadvantaged areas.

Full-time undergraduates from the most disadvantaged areas, those places which had had the fewest youngsters going to university, rose 42%, from some 22,000 in 2005 to more than 31,000 in 2014.

But numbers of part-time and mature students fell during the same period…

Researchers analysed the home addresses of students at all UK universities and divided them into five groups, according to the proportion of young people going to university from the neighbourhood. 

Each of these groups represents around 20% of all young people and are ranked by the Higher Education Statistics Agency from those with the lowest proportion of young people who attend university, considered the most disadvantaged, to areas with the highest, considered advantaged. 

In 2013, for example, young people from the most successful areas were 2.7 times more likely to go to university than those from the least successful areas – but this imbalance is beginning to improve, suggest the figures. 

By 2013-14, more than 11% of undergraduates came from the most disadvantaged areas – compared with less than 9% a decade before. 

“One thing that leaps out from this year’s report is how much the student body has changed over the period,” say the researchers. 

“Students are more likely to be studying full-time and are younger.”

Full-time students made up nearly three-quarters of all students in 2013-14, up from just over 60% in 2004-5, they note. 

But the number of part-time students – both undergraduates and postgraduates – fell by 29% in the 10 years to 2014, they add. 

Part-time students faced multiple blows in terms of funding, says the report. 

They were hit by the removal in 2008-09 of funding for qualifications equivalent to or lower than ones they already had and by the increase in student fees in 2012, says the report…

More at: Wider range of students taking degrees, suggests study

 

Get the report in full from Universities UK at: Patterns and trends in UK higher education 2015 

 

Are you surprised that the apparent proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds is going up despite the rise in tuition fees (many predicted the opposite would happen)?

Please share your reactions and insights in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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