ASCL responds to UCAS statistics on increase in disadvantaged students aiming high with university choices

28/10/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on UCAS statistics showing that the number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying to the most selective universities and courses has increased by 8% this year. 
 
Commenting on UCAS statistics showing that the number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying to the most selective universities and courses has increased by 8% this year, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“It is great to see an increase in applications from the most disadvantaged students for the most selective universities and courses. This is testament to the hard work of schools and colleges in teaching and supporting these young people so well and giving them the confidence to aim high. That is an achievement at any time but particularly so during a pandemic which has often hit disadvantaged young people the hardest.
 
“However, there is still a long way to go. There are still nearly six times as many applications from the most advantaged students for these universities and courses compared to the most disadvantaged. This is part of an educational attainment gap which leaves disadvantaged pupils on average 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they take their GCSEs.
 
“More government investment is needed in early years education, in schools and colleges, and in tackling child poverty to address this persistent inequality, together with strategies to improve teacher recruitment and retention, support struggling schools, and ensure that qualifications work well for all students.
 
“At the current rate of progress there is no prospect of this disadvantage gap being eliminated. A government which talks constantly about ‘levelling up’ has to do better.”