New Office for Students (OfS) data shows slight progress in widening participation

Gaps between most represented and least represented students reducing gradually

The OfS has updated six of its key performance measures (KPMs).

Five of the updated KPMs relate to widening participation in higher education, namely the OfS’s strategic objective that ‘All students, from all backgrounds, with the ability and desire to undertake higher education, are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education.’

The data shows a slight reduction in the gaps between most represented and least represented students.

Key findings

KPM 1: Gap in participation between most and least represented groups

The overall gap between the groups of students who are most and least likely to take up higher education has reduced steadily in recent years. The most represented students were 2.08 times more likely to participate in higher education than the least represented in 2018-19. They were 2.65 times more likely in 2010/11.

KPM 2: Gap in participation at higher-tariff providers between the most and least represented groups

The participation gap at higher-tariff providers has reduced. In 2010/11 the most represented students were 6.14 more likely to go to high-tariff providers than the least represented. Now, they are only 3.91 times more likely.

KPM 3: Gap in non-continuation between most and least represented groups

The gap in non-continuation has changed very little since 2014-15 – just 0.3 percentage points smaller than in 2010/11.

KPM 4: Gap in degree outcomes (1sts or 2:1s) between white students and black students

The gap in degree outcomes has been shrinking slightly but remains large; dropping from 27 percentage points in 2014/15 to 22.1 percentage points in 2018/19.

KPM 5: Gap in degree outcomes (1sts or 2:1s) between disabled students and non-disabled students

There has been a small reduction in the gap in degree outcomes since 2017-18. In 2018-19, there was a difference of 2.5 percentage points between the proportion of disabled and non-disabled students getting a 1st or 2:1. This is down from 4.5 percentage points in 2010/11.

KPM 18: Students achieving 1sts

29.1% of students were awarded a first in 2018.19. This compares with 15.7% in 2010/11, and is up 0.2% on last year.

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