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Half of universities in England have fewer than 5% poor white students

Half of universities in England have fewer than 5% poor white students

More than half of universities in England have fewer than 5% of white working-class students in their intakes, according to researchers. A report from the National Education Opportunity Network (Neon) found that white youngsters in receipt of free school meals were the least likely of any group to study at university after those from Traveller…


More than half of universities in England have fewer than 5% of white working-class students in their intakes, according to researchers.

A report from theNational Education Opportunity Network(Neon) found that white youngsters in receipt of free school meals were the least likely of any group to study at university after those from Traveller backgrounds.

White students make up the majority of people living in areas where university attendance is lowest and those who do attend are more likely to enrol at less prestigiouspost-1992universities.

Figures from the admissions service Ucas show that in terms of numbers, white people from all social backgrounds make up the largest group of university students and nearly half of all students at further education colleges. But in proportion to the population, young white people are less likely to go to university than black or Asian teenagers.

The University of Cambridge and Oxford University were among the institutions accepting the smallest number of white students from low-participation neighbourhoods, while the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester has none.

Sheffield Hallam University accepted the greatest number of poorer white students, closely followed by Liverpool John Moores and Teesside.

The analysis found that of all applications to higher education by this demographic, only 22% were accepted. More than 50% of universities accepted fewer than 20% of the applications received from these students.

Although many universities admit only a very small number of white students from areas of low participation, with some admitting none at all, fewer than 20% of institutions have targets related to accessibility for them.

A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia, which has 310 students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, said: “University outreach activity alone is unlikely to affect the change necessary to ensure that white disadvantaged students have the same outcomes as their more advantaged peers.

“The issue would require national investment, working in partnership with school leaders, businesses and local authorities to affect deep-rooted change.”

Of the higher education providers who responded to a survey by Neon, fewer than 40% were doing outreach work specifically with white males and fewer than 12% with white females from low-participation backgrounds.

London has fewer areas with low participation in higher education and a high number of black and ethnic minority students. This provides some explanation as to why students going to university from areas with low participation are more likely to be white. Some of the high number of students from BME backgrounds would undoubtedly be classed as being disadvantaged by any other measure.

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