High University Participation in the Capital Linked to Large Ethnic Minority Population

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The high proportion of people going to university in London is distinctly linked to the capital’s large ethnic minority population, reports the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) in the winter edition of Graduate Market Trends (GMT) published today (30 January 2013).

Jane Artess, director of research at HECSU comments on the findings, which explain the regional differences in higher education participation in England1: “The proportion of young people from London who enter university is significantly higher than other regions. There is also a prominent East/West divide in the city itself with a significantly higher than expected proportion of young people attending university in West London than East London.

“These geographical differences correspond closely to each area’s proportion of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The 2011 Census shows that over 60% of people aged 18 to 19 are from ethnic minority backgrounds in Brent, Ealing and Harrow in comparison to less than 20% in Havering, Bexley and Bromley.

“Several recent studies have shown that young people from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to aspire to go to university than those from White backgrounds and now it seems likely that the higher proportion of young people going to university in London can be related to the city’s large ethnic minority population.

“To shed light on this area we examined differences between London and the remaining regions regarding aspirations to go to university in Year 9, GCSE results and university admissions2.

“We found that the higher aspirations of non-White and White respondents and the relatively good GCSE scores of non-White respondents in London when compared with regions outside the capital goes some way towards explaining the higher proportion of young people who go to university in London.

“The important point for policies aiming to increase the number of young people going to university in different regions is to recognise that the wider environment has an influence on young people’s aspirations so that a one-size fits all approach is unlikely to be useful.”

The full analysis can be read in the winter edition of GMT at www.hecsu.ac.uk.

HECSU is a registered charity that supports the work of higher education careers services in the UK and Republic of Ireland and funds major research projects that benefit the higher education careers sector. Graduate Prospects is the commercial subsidiary of HECSU and has been bringing students, graduates and recruiters together for more than 40 years.

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