A new study by HEFCE demonstrates that young people aged 18 and 19 are significantly more likely to enter higher education in 2009/10 than they were in 2004/05. Overall participation among 18 and 19 year-olds has risen by 12 per cent in this period, with a substantial increase among young people from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, who are now over 30 per cent more likely to enter HE than in 2004/05.  There has been a similarly impressive rise in the proportion of young people entering HE from lower-income households, as well as among families with traditionally low rates of engagement in HE.


The data also shows that the rate of increase in participation has been slower for young men than young women, although recently that gap has narrowed. The results suggest that young participation rates in general, and among under-represented groups in particular, were not disproportionately affected by the introduction of tuition fees.


GuildHE institutions have a particularly good record in recruitment from low-participation groups. Commenting on the figures, Alice Hynes, Chief Executive Officer of GuildHE, said:


“The research analysis from HEFCE is very powerful and gives a positive message that efforts to engage with those ‘first to go’ into higher education are bearing fruit. This material also provides an opportunity to understand trends which will be critical in predicting the effects of demography, staying-on rates, and consequences for the future of fees and funding. The success in raising participation across the board runs parallel with Government investment in higher education and expansion in student places.


“Work to disaggregate this data by region, ethnicity, degree type and institution will be eagerly awaited by the sector. It seems to reflect the bigger picture on social mobility – moving manual labourers to office workers, clerks to professionals, and supporting those with ambition to change their financial prospects. These generations want to learn, our higher education sector wants to deliver them that opportunity, and we need to convince the voting public that an expanded higher education is also what they want.”


For more information, please contact:
Alice Hynes, CEO GuildHE


tel. 020 7387 7711


Notes to editors

1.         HEFCE’s issues paper will be available here

2.         GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here