Understanding the changing gaps in higher education participation in different regions of England

Research report

Participation in higher education in England has been steadily increasing since the 1990s. Participation amongst disadvantaged groups has grown in line with this overall increase and the gap between the most and least disadvantaged has narrowed. However, there are large differences in the participation rates of young people living in different parts of the country.

Other research shows that prior educational attainment and ethnicity are important predictors of participation in higher education. When these are accounted for, many differences between areas are reduced. However, some areas have much higher or lower levels of participation than would be expected given pupil attainment and the local ethnic profile, suggesting other factors are also at play.

The aim of this study is, therefore, to explore the factors influencing participation in higher education particularly where these relate to or vary by locality, and the relative influence these have on the propensity of the young people living in the area to progress into higher education. This research project:
• summarises existing knowledge on participation rates in higher education and key determinants of participation;

• identifies areas with high and low levels of participation or changes in participation, which cannot be explained by either prior educational attainment or the ethnic composition of an areas’ population;
• identifies factors at a local level which appear to drive higher education participation, including environmental or other “uncontrollable” factors; and
• identifies key influential actors and stakeholders and actions they can take to influence participation.

Published : 29th March 2017*

Author : June Wiseman, Elizabeth Davies, Sandhya Duggal, Linsey Bowes, Rachel Moreton, Sarah Robinson, Tej Nathwani, Guy Birking, Liz Thomas and Jennifer Roberts  [ More From This Author ]

Publisher : Department for Education  [ More From This Publisher ]

Rights : Department for Education

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