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Study reveals widening HE participation gaps

Widening social, regional and gender divides in higher education participation among young people in England have been revealed in a new study.

Those living in the most advantaged areas of Britain are three times as likely to go to university as those from the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods, says a report on the findings from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Although the participation rate of disadvantaged young people from all areas increased, from the late 1990s to 2011-12 the participation gap between them and their more privileged peers grew by 2 percentage points.

Regional divides are more stark, with participation rates in London outstripping the rest of the country and almost doubling in the study period from 12 to 23 per cent.

The biggest gap is between Wimbledon, where 68 per cent of young people progress into higher education, and Nottingham North, where just 16 per cent do. Particapation among those living in the most disadvantaged areas of the capital also grew much faster than among those from disadvantaged regions in the rest of the country.

The gender gap also grew, with young women now 22 per cent more likely to enter higher education than young men. Young women living in disadvantaged areas are now 35 per cent more likely than their male counterparts to go to university.

Overall across England, participation among young people rose from 30 to 38 per cent, a proportional increase of 26 per cent. 

Get the full picture from HEi-know: Briefing Report 105