Official figures show that in 2017/18, a record 50.2 per cent of English 17- to 30-year-olds had participated in higher education.
The new figures, which cover UK universities and colleges, show a steady rise in the “higher education participation rate” over the last five years.
The participation rate for women is 56.6 per cent while for their male peers it is 44.1 per cent.
Speaking on a visit to King’s College, London on Thursday, the education secretary urged universities to do more to ensure they have a diverse intake of students.
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