Postcode lottery still determines degree achievement

A “postcode lottery” still determines whether a youngster is likely to get a university degree or not, according to a report out today.

The gap between the percentage of people gaining degrees in the country’s most disadvantaged areas and those living in more affluent suburbs nearby is widening, says the analysis.

The report studies degree performance in 21 inner city areas on a Parliamentary constituency basis.

It shows, for instance, that two out of three people living in Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency had a degree - and only three per cent had no qualifications at all.

Just down the road in former Cabinet minister David Blunkett’s constituency only 15 per cent have a degree while 23 per cent have no qualifications at all.

Mr Clegg’s constituency is in the more affluent suburbs of the city while Mr Blunkett’s serves the city centre.

In the 20 constituencies with the lowest level of participation in higher education last year, the proportion of the working age population with a degree-level qualification or above fell from 12.6 per cent to 12.1 per cent in the three years from 2005.

By contrast, the figures for the 20 constituencies with the highest level of participation show a rise from 48.8 per cent to 57.2 per cent in 2008.

The analysis was carried out by the UCU, the university and college lecturers’ union, whose general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Education holds the key to improving social mobility, tackling poverty and extending opportunity for all.

“Those with the greatest access to qualifications tend to be healthier, wealthier and more active citizens.

“Yet, as this report shows, the current divide between the haves and have nots is growing with where you live largely determining your chance to educational success.”

There are signs, though, that the picture may be about to change.

A report to be published later this month, details of which have been given to The Independent, shows there has been a significant increase in the number of people from disadvantaged families going to university with 18.5 per cent of those from the two poorest income groups seeking a place last year compared with just 13.5 per cent a decade previously.

While this is no guarantee of a rise in degree level participation in low participation neighbourhoods, university officials are optimistic it offers hope for the future.

Today’s report from the UCU which covers the workforce in the area (and therefore people who left school a long time ago) just underlines what a mountain has to be climbed.

A spokeswoman for Lord Mandelson’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The Government has worked hard to widen participation with the overall number of students from lower socio economic groups going to university at its highest level for seven years.

“With investment at record levels, real progress is being made across England with marked growth in some of the most disadvantaged areas.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot