More Disadvantaged Teens Than Ever Want To Go To Uni

Despite two price hikes that mean a student now has to spend £9,000 a year on uni, more disadvantaged students than ever are applying to go


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Costing a whopping £9,000 a year (and that's before you get to racking up the bill for accommodation, t-shirts with punny slogans on, extra-curricular bunf, late library fines, photocopying money, supernoodles with peanut butter, jagerbombs and all manner of frozen vegetables), university does sound a bit off-putting to anyone who doesn't want to spend a load of money on a degree that might not get them a job.

But that hasn't stood in the way of record numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to go to uni.

In 2006, 10.5 per cent of disadvantaged teenagers applied for university. This figure is now at 17.9 per cent, a rise of 1.3 per cent in the past year alone. Just FYI, 'disadvantaged' in this case is defined as teenagers who are eligible for free school meals, and the actual figures are that 14,230 of them applied for uni this year, out of a total of 79,720.

The UCAS study showed that, despite the tuition fee hikes in 2006 (up to £3,000 from nothing at all) and 2012 (up to £9,000), the overall amount of people leaving school looking for a uni place had gone up, but faster amongst students of disadvantage backgrounds. Girls are more likely to apply, with 21 per cent doing so as opposed to 14 per cent of boys. This apparently reflects the pattern of GCSE results.

The Times suggests that this news is 'confounding critics who said that higher fees would deter less wealthy candidates', which could be true. However, maybe it's all because more young people are seeing uni as the only option to get out of the poverty they're in, or it's that they understand that student debt is something you have for life following a degree, a sad inevitability you have no choice but to get used to.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: 'There is still more work to be done. It remains the case that applicants living in the most advantaged areas are still three times more likely to apply to higher education than those living in the most disadvantaged areas.'

All very good and well, but if more people from disadvantage backgrounds are getting into university, we'd like to see the number of people attending uni start to match the number of graduates getting jobs.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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