Poorer students still being excluded by universities

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The Independent Online

The proportion of students from poor families going to university has risen only marginally over the past six years, official figures reveal.

The proportion of students from poor families going to university has risen only marginally over the past six years, official figures reveal.

The first study by the Universities and Colleges Admissions (Ucas) on changes in the social class of successful applicants shows that students from low-income familiesare still seriously under-represented at university.

Last year, 21 per cent of students accepted on degree courses came from the wealthiest group (which is 11 per cent of households) compared with 21.9 per cent in 1994. The figure for the poorest group (which is 6.6 per cent of households) was 2.9.

The results of the study - which will be released next week - will renew pressure on universities in the wake of the case of Laura Spence, the comprehensive school pupil who gained a place at Harvard after being turned down by Magdalen College, Oxford.

MPs on the Commons Select Committee on Education are holding an inquiry into why so few pupils from poor backgrounds win places at universities.

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrats' higher education spokesman, said: "These are insignificant changes. If this Government's aim has been to generate a big increase in access then these figures show they have failed."

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