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Higher Education: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN 138390, tabled on 15 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of people (a) applying for and (b) securing places at higher education institutions were from (i) working class and (ii) disadvantaged backgrounds for the academic year 2019-20.

Answered on

25 January 2021

It is more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.

In the 2019/20 applications cycle, 11.4% of English 18 year olds applying for higher education were from disadvantaged backgrounds (POLAR4 Q1), and 11.3% of English 18 year olds accepted onto higher education places, were from disadvantaged backgrounds. This compares to 10.4% of English 18 year old applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, and 9.7% of accepted English 18 year old applicants, in the 2011/12 applications cycle.

It is vital that students applying to university in 2021 have extra time to carefully consider their applications and make the best choices for their future. As such, for students applying to enter university in 2021, the UCAS deadline for most courses has been pushed back to 29 January 2021. We are encouraging universities to be flexible when making offers to individual students whose education has been disproportionally and adversely impacted from the COVID-19 outbreak, to ensure that these students are able to receive fair offers for 2021.

All higher education providers wanting to charge higher level fees must also have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the Office for Students in which they set out the measures they intend to take to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups can access and succeed in higher education.

We have just launched a consultation on options for reforming the higher education admissions system in favour of post-qualification admissions. We are asking respondents to work with us to identify ways in which the system can be made to work better for disadvantaged students, particularly in terms of being able to access the most selective universities.