From education to employment

Boosting access to top universities for poor students must be a priority for PMs plan to ‘level up’


New figures published today (17 Dec) by the Department for Education show that the most advantaged pupils were five times more likely to progress to a top university than the most disadvantaged in 2017/18. This shows that minimal progress has been made over the past 8 years – the figure was six times more likely in 2009/10.

Commenting, Reform Education Researcher, Imogen Farhan, said: 

“Top universities should be engines of social mobility, but today’s statistics show that this is far from a reality.

“£66 million was spent on access and participation last year. But throwing money at the problem isn’t working.

“Greater transparency about how universities are spending access budgets and admissions which consider a student’s background are required.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about closing the opportunity gap and ‘levelling up’ attainment in the country this must be a priority.”  

On Friday 15 November, Reform published ‘Access for All? The participation of disadvantaged students at elite universities’. The report ranked the top 29 Universities progress in improving access for disadvantaged students.

The 2019 elite university access rankings are listed below (The figure in brackets signifies the universities position in 2018): 

  1. (4)           The University of East Anglia
  2. (14)         The University of Exeter
  3. (1)           London School of Economics and Political Science
  4. (18)         The University of Oxford
  5. (26)         St George’s, UoL
  6. (5)           The University of York
  7. (9)           The University of Warwick
  8. (11)         The University of Leicester
  9. (3)           The University of Sheffield
  10. (27)         The University of Cambridge
  11. (20)         University of Durham
  12. (16)         The University of Bristol
  13. (2)           University of Newcastle
  14. (10)         University of Nottingham
  15. (25)         The University of Manchester
  16. (13)         The University of Surrey
  17. (8)           Loughborough University
  18. (15)         The University of Birmingham
  19. (23)         Imperial College London
  20. (28)         The University of Southampton
  21. (24)         The University of Leeds
  22. (21)         The University of Liverpool
  23. (6)           SOAS
  24. (22)         The University of Lancaster
  25. (17)         The University of Bath
  26. (12)         King’s College London
  27. (19)         Queen Mary, UoL
  28. (29)         University College London
  29. (7)           Royal Holloway, UoL

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