Widening participation in Higher Education

Widening participation in Higher Education

New study sheds light on why Southern students miss out on university

Over 50 young people every year are missing out on university from just five local government wards in Poole, Hampshire, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. And over 100 more should be going to university, according to Government targets.

These stark figures were at the centre of a ground-breaking conference being held at Southampton Solent University on Friday 28th October. The conference heard the results of a year-long study by the Southern Policy Centre, supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and GuildHE.

The study has used ‘open data’, and data held by local councils, to explore why able young people may miss out on university. The data has been used to suggest possible local widening participation strategies.

Issues identified include:

• Students who get good GCSE results are less likely to go to university than their peers elsewhere
• In some areas, poorer students get markedly less good results at GCSE
• The number of students going to college at 16 varies widely, as do drop-out rates
• Areas where parents work in less skills jobs or have fewer qualifications have lower levels of participation in higher education

The analysis has been used to suggest local interventions including:

• Targeted support for able students from local areas
• Support for parents to raise aspirations
• Engaging the assistance of employers, community
organisations and social housing providers

Chair of the Southern Policy Centre, John Denham, said:

“This is an innovative and ground-breaking project that suggests practical ways to reduce the number of able young people who may feel that university is ‘not for them’ and are currently missing out on higher education.”