Responding to a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, which highlights the disparities between students’ chances of getting to university based on where they live.
The University and College Union (UCU) said investment across the board was required if students from all backgrounds were to fulfil their potential.
UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said:
"Those with the greatest access to qualifications tend to be healthier, wealthier and more active citizens. Yet, as this report shows, where you live largely determines your chances of educational success.
"The committee is right to call on universities to evaluate their outreach work and to target it in areas with the lowest social mobility. We agree that local authorities should receive extra funds in cold spot areas to tackle the current postcode lottery of educational success.
"What we really need is proper investment across the board in areas that have the lowest access to education and the opportunities it provides. Further education colleges must be given proper resources to deliver the education that is so vital in those areas ignored by politicians for too long."
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"This report rightly blames the Government's austerity agenda, including cuts to support services and children's centres, for limiting the educational potential of disadvantaged young people.
“If the Government is serious about social mobility, it needs to properly fund good quality early years education, rather than focus on providing childcare to enable parents to work.
"Schools must be adequately funded and there should be structures that foster collaboration rather than competition between them. We also need a high quality and fair inspection system which acknowledges the good work done by schools in challenging circumstances and offers constructive advice on ways to improve. Schools in disadvantaged areas find it hard at present to hire teachers and head teachers because of the threat of a negative Ofsted grade.
"Lastly, this Government must put a stop to austerity. Children should not be going to school hungry and without adequate clothing, and teachers should be able to teach rather than solve the problems of structural poverty caused by recent Governments."