State school university admissions stall

Official figures have revealed that the proportion of students from state schools and disadvantaged areas going to university has only risen by 0.1 percent.

Despite government attempts to widen UK student participation at university, very few young people from poorer neighbourhoods are moving on to higher education, according to the latest statistics.

Released by the Higher Education Stats Agency (HESA) on Thursday 1 February, the newest figures show a huge disparity in recruitment rates between universities in the UK. Universities which had the lowest state school participation included Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and St. Andrews.

Some small, specialist institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music had as little as 44 percent of students coming from state schools.

UEA is a stronger recruiter of students from state schools, with approximately nine out of every ten full-time undergraduates having attended a state school.

In the 2014/15 academic year, UEA had 5.8 percent more students from state schools than their benchmark. However, like many institutions, UEA observed a slight dip in numbers over 2015/16 recruitment.

SU Postgraduate Officer Maddie Colledge said: “We do have to be careful when looking at UEA’s performance here, as having a large Health Sciences school means that some groups tend to be clustered in courses like Nursing.

“Generally we’re really pleased with UEA’s progress on recruiting students from lower incomes it’s really important given the shockingly low participation in University in our region,” she said.

“But the challenge set by the new University regulator is not just about recruiting students- it’s about retaining them and helping them to succeed, and here at UEA you’re still more likely to drop out if you’re from a poorer background.”

More than a third of the elite Russel Group universities saw a drop in the proportion of state school students, including Oxford and Cambridge who had the lowest numbers.

Oxford recorded the smallest number of entrants at 57.7 percent, followed by Cambridge at 62.6 percent. Edinburgh University recorded a 3.3 percent decrease and London School of Economics revealing a 3.2 percent drop.

However slowing participation rates have affected two out of five universities, reporting drops in numbers of state school students.

The decline in numbers of students follows a general drop in overall applications. By 15 January 2018, there was a 0.9 percent reduction in the total number of people that are applying to higher education.

UEA continues to push for student progression through the outreach team and student ambassador schemes which provide a variety of activities to increase intake. Maddie Colledge said the SU have been working with the university through the Widening Participation committee “to help change this- running BuddySU, and identifying factors like financial hardship and social networks that contribute to student success.”

“We’re also calling on the government to look at widening participation by subject rather than just by university, to ensure that we’re doing all we can to diversify socially exclusive professions like Law and Medicine,” she added.


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May 2022
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