Poor white students overlooked by majority of universities – report

England admissions data suggests fewer than 5% of intake fits demographic profile, says study

Universities are failing to attract white students from deprived areas.

That is the view of the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), which has released an analysis of admissions figures suggesting fewer than half of England’s universities count more than five per cent of the demographic in their intakes.

The study – Working Class Heroes: understanding access to higher education for white students from lower socio-economic backgrounds – calls for a “national initiative” to promote wider access to higher education.

“Young people in the poorest areas of the country are up to 16 times less likely to go onto higher education than young people in the wealthiest areas,” it says.

Graeme Atherton, director of Neon and co-author of the report, said: “This report shows that while there is some innovative work being undertaken in the HE sector to address the low levels of participation of this group of students, big variability exists in their chances of participating in HE across providers. We need to know more about why this variability exists and do more to eliminate it.”

Neon is part of London Higher, the regional organisation for higher education providers in London.