Abigail MeadowJanuary 23rd

Students from affluent backgrounds are twice as likely to go into higher education than those from deprived areas - and six times as likely to get into top universities.

The gap between rich and poorer students at universities 'remains stark' despite significant investment from institutions such as Oxford in recruiting students from state educated backgrounds, a new report has warned.

Research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said the sector had failed to bridge the gap and establish programmes that encourage disadvantaged students to attend university.


According to the think tank, the gaps have persisted despite £250 million being spent each year on programmes aimed to combat the problem.

The report also suggests that insufficient evidence exists that the schemes are having any impact on university enrolments.

David Robinson, director of post-16 and skills at EPI and author of the report, said: “While the higher education sector has made gains in reaching out to students from disadvantaged backgrounds over the last decade, there are still huge gaps in our knowledge of which interventions work best.”

Racism at UK Universities

He added: "The size of the university access gap in this country remains stark."

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students (OfS), said: “The lack of progress in reducing access gaps, despite all the work in this area, is indeed stark.”

He added: “Through our regulation, there is more pressure than ever before on universities and colleges to achieve improved outcomes for underrepresented students, but this research is right to highlight the historic lack of high-quality evidence to support them in doing this.” 

uni ranking 3

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Record rates of 18 year olds are going to university, with significant increases of those from disadvantaged backgrounds reaching higher education.

“However, we know there is still much to do and we are committed to improving our understanding of the actions that work in terms of widening access to higher education across the country."


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