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Has England become a more equal nation in education?

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has recently published a study on the trends in young participation in higher education. The study’s focusses on students entering higher education at the age of 18 or 19. The timeframe of the analysis covers a period from the mid-1990s to the present based on applications data.

Some key findings highlighted by the study are:

  • A 6 percent growth can be seen in young participation in higher education during the last 15 years and it is 20 percent more likely that teenagers start tertiary education compared to 1994-1995.

  • Since the mid-2000s a 30 percent increase can be seen in the proportion of young people coming from disadvantaged and poor neighbourhoods, while the most advantaged areas are represented at 5 percent only.

  • The percentage of young women entering higher education is 8 percent higher than the men’s share in the end of the year 2000. For the first time since the beginning of 1990s, the proportion of young men rose from 29 percent to 32 percent during the last years.

The results seem to exhibit different or rather conflictual opinions on the question of equality in the education. Britain is criticised more and more for unequal opportunities in many domains, including the education. Focusing on the big picture, a young person from the poorest family is still significantly less likely to start university studies than the rich.