Top universities take more students from poor areas

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people from deprived neighbourhoods being accepted by elite universities. The numbers from areas traditionally associated with low participation in higher education have increased by 49 per cent since 1997.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people from deprived neighbourhoods being accepted by elite universities. The numbers from areas traditionally associated with low participation in higher education have increased by 49 per cent since 1997.

The Sutton Trust, the charity run by the millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl which aims to improve access to universities for working-class pupils, has been monitoring admissions at the top 13 universities.

Its research, released yesterday, shows that they now take in 1,741 youngsters from deprived areas compared to` just 855 in 1997.

The biggest increase has been at Birmingham, where numbers have soared 87 per cent from 265 to 495. All 13 have seen an increase with Cambridge's figures going up 48 per cent to 161 and Oxford's 46 per cent to 173.

Sir Peter said that the report showed "significant progress" had been made in levelling the playing field for university applicants.

The report also shows that the same universities have increased the overall number of youngsters they take in from state schools by 35 per cent over the same period - a rise of 5,900. The biggest rise in figures (a total of 9 per cent) is shared by Birmingham, Bristol, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics.

The trust's research also shows that the rise has not meant a lowering of admissions standards - or a drop in the number of pupils taken in by independent schools. The A-level point score achieved by the average successful candidate in the same period has also gone up from 26.4 points to 26.8 points.

The rise in independent school admissions is put down to the overall increase in student numbers at the 13 universities - up by 6,000, 5,900 of these are from the state sector.

The report shows the 49 per cent increase in participation from low participation neighbourhoods compares to 20 per cent from the most affluent post code areas - and a general increase of 22 per cent.

The findings are heartening for Labour, which has insisted all universities must sign agreements with the new Office of Fair Access, the watchdog on university admissions, agreeing to seek wider participation before they can charge top-up fees of £3,000 a year.

Comments