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Education in the media: 4 August 2017

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Today’s news review looks at the number of students from state schools being admitted to top universities.


On Thursday, 3 August, the department published their annual stats on widening participation in higher education. This illustrates the number of pupils on free school meals and from private and state schools that progressed to higher education. This was covered in the Telegraph and the Times (p.15)

Latest UCAS data shows that in 2016 disadvantaged young people were 52 per cent more likely to go to one of the most selective universities. The department welcomes the number of universities who are already doing good work in promoting equality of opportunity.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

I welcome the fact that the proportion of people on free school meals going to university is now at its highest ever level. We have made significant progress to ensure that everyone, no matter what their background, gets the chance to study at the UK’s world-leading universities.


Recent UCAS data shows young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are 43% more likely to go to university compared with 2009/2010, but we know there is more to do to close the gap between those from the most and least advantaged backgrounds. That is why we insist that all universities must demonstrate how they are widening access before they can raise their fees above £6000.


Through the Higher Education and Research Act, we are also requiring universities to publish their admissions, attainment, and retention rates to shine a light on where more must be done to tackle inequality.  This is on top of the Teaching Excellence Framework which will explicitly look at how providers are achieving positive outcomes for disadvantaged students.

For our statistics on higher education participation please see here.

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