Great class divide hits universities: Social chasm still exists between state and private school pupils

 

A social chasm still exists between state and private school pupils while at university, new research will claim today.

The findings of a research project jointly mounted by Bristol University and UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) will say this is largely triggered by accommodation costs - with students saying the more expensive university accommodation will be snapped up by those who are better off while poorer students will opt for cheaper accommodation.

“There was a social chasm between private and state school students, often exacerbated by university accommodation costs,” according to the report.  

The study of 40 students from each university also goes on to show that working class students have a very different experience of university life than their middle class counterparts.

“The team found that getting in to university was seen as normal, even expected for many middle class youngsters while for working class students it was usually a choice that required more consideration, effort and strategic planning and was often a hope rather than an expectation,” says the report.

“Many working-class parents were unable to help with the university application process but did provide emotional support and encouragement.”

It adds: “Once at university working-class students faced considerable economic hardships, while middle-class students were cushioned by their parents’ financial support.

“Financial constraints limited working-class students in terms of extra-curricular activities - with many of them having to work in mundane jobs during term-time - unlike a lot of those from wealthier backgrounds.”

However, one bonus point for the more disadvantaged students was that their experiences instilled in them a sense of resilience which stood them in good stead when they entered the world of work.

Middle class students, though, were far more able to draw upon family resources and had access to influential social networks to help them get work experience or internships while they studied - crucial in accessing employment.

The researchers also found that female students at both universities were more likely to limit their career aspirations through considering childcare.

Professor Harriet Bradley, professor of employment research at UWE Bristol who led the research, added:  “Our main finding is that class and gender make a difference to the way the benefits of a university education are accessed.

“We found that the social, cultural and economic capital that middle class students arrive at university with can be used to smooth the path through university and into work at the end.

“For example, some students had a network of connections with relevant professions acquired through family prior to university - along with economic capital which provided a financial buffer during their university career.

“These were not evenly distributed amongst students from the outset and the presence or absence of these factors had an effect on the way students were able to use the opportunities on offer at both universities.”

One thing both sets of students were agreed upon, though, was that few felt they were getting value for money now fees had soared to up to £9,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the head of a City-based charity dedicated to aiding disadvantaged students has hit out  at the current “obsession” that all school leavers should be aiming for a university place.

Sir John Stuttard, former Mayor of London who has just been chosen as Master-elect for the Company of Educators, said: “We have the prospect of many graduates leaving university with large debts and with degrees in subjects that give little or no career choice - other than to work in coffee shops or bars.”

Sir John bemoaned the demise of the former polytechnics, saying: “It was a sad day when the technical colleges were made into universities.  It encouraged them to turn their backs on vocational education.”

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

£24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam