Higher Education

What does this chart show?

Both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students from London have higher rates of attending higher education institutions (HEIs) than pupils in the rest of England. Disadvantaged students in Inner London actually have the highest rate of attending HEIs – 59%. This will be important to monitor over time, as abolition of maintenance grants (2016) may lead to a decline in disadvantaged students attending HEIs.

This general pattern extends to the top third of HEIs (excluding the Russell Group), with higher proportions of both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils from London attending these universities than their counterparts in the rest of England. 

However, despite educational attainment gains in London for disadvantaged students, this is not translating through to improved representation of poorer students in elite Russell Group universities. Russell Group university graduates on average earn significantly more than other graduates*, so this divide fuels adult inequality.  

Non-disadvantaged students have higher rates of attendance at elite Russell Group universities across Inner and Outer London and England. In Outer London, 15% of non-disadvantaged students attend, compared with just 8% of disadvantaged students. Inner London had the smallest gap due to a smaller proportion of nondisadvantaged students attending – 12% compared with 8% of disadvantaged students. 

Disadvantaged students in the rest of England were the worst represented in HEIs, with only 39% attending HEIs, only 3% attending a non-Russell Group university in the top third, and 5% attending a Russell Group university. 

 Research from the Sutton Trust** found the representation gap cannot be explained solely by academic achievement. Rather, family background (parents’ education/ work) seems to still contribute to the access gap.

*    Kirby, P. (2015) Levels of Success: The potential of UK apprenticeships. [Online] Link

**  O’Leary, J. (2013) Advancing access and admissions: The Sutton Trust Summit. [Online] Link


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