18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England 72% more likely to apply to university than they were in 2006

One of the worries many people had about the new system of university tuition fees was that it might put people off from deprived backgrounds from going to university. If you listened to the Labour Party or the Guardian at the end of 2010, you’d have thought that nobody from such a background would be able to ever go to university again.

The facts, though, tell a different story. UCAS figures this week show that an 18 year old from a poorer background is now 72% more likely to apply to go to university than they were in 2006. It’s still not where it needs to be, but it shows a steady improvement. The Guardian has the story:

The gap between the numbers of rich and poor students applying to university has narrowed, with disadvantaged teenagers more likely than ever before to want to enrol.

New figures, published by admissions service Ucas, show that the application rates of 18-year-olds living in poor areas in all four countries of the UK have increased to the highest levels recorded.

What’s striking is that the rates in England are higher than Scotland where tuition remains free. It shows that the SNP Government have much to do in terms of increasing accessibility. They have recently, at long last, improved student financial support, but this has yet to show dramatic improvement. 

The UCAS report illustrates the changes:

Graph showing rise in uni applications from disadvantaged 18 year olds

The increase in applications from disadvantaged areas since 2006 is dramatic:

A similar pattern is evident across other countries of the UK: 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland were 36 per cent more likely to apply in 2015 than in 2006, 63 per cent more likely in Scotland and 39 per cent more likely in Wales. In all four countries of the UK the application rate from disadvantaged areas is at record levels, 21.0 per cent in England, 25.4 per cent in Northern Ireland, 15.6 per cent in Scotland and 18.9 per cent in Wales.

But although the gap is narrowing significantly, a person from an advantaged background is still between 2.4 and 3.0 times more likely to go to university than someone from a less advantaged situation.

In 2015, the application rates from the most advantaged areas in all countries were between 2.4 and 3.0 times as great as the application rates from the most disadvantaged areas. In England, 18 year olds from the most advantaged areas were 2.4 times more likely to apply to higher education than those from the most disadvantaged areas in 2015. In 2006, 18 year olds from the same areas in England were 3.8 times more likely to apply than those from the most disadvantaged areas. 18 year olds living in advantaged areas in England remain much more likely to apply to higher education, but this difference has substantially reduced across the period, driven by an increase in application rates in the most disadvantaged areas.

While our fears from 2010 may not have been realised, there is still much to do to make the playing field level.  We should, however, make it clear to anyone who asks that applications from poorer teenagers are higher than ever.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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37 Comments

  • This is the number of applications. Please could you check it against two other statistics. First look at the number enrolling in universities, as I’ve recently seen a suggestion (in the Times Higher) that this has fallen recently. Secondly, please check how many students complete their degree course once they have enrolled. I don’t know those statistics but they are much more significant than the number of applicants.

    One reason why young people apply to university is, of course, the fear of joblessness and lack of support. A degree assures them of some money, even though they are asked to pay it back at 3 percent over the rate of inflation. I think you will find that more young people also apply for and receive payday loans than in 2006 but this doesn’t tell us something good about the financial prospects of those young people.

    For the record, I am strongly in favour of enabling all who can benefit from it to receive education. It makes for a better society. However recent policies – especially the £9,000 a year fees – have accelerated universities’ rush into “brand management” with all the showy marketing and concealment/suppression of dissent that entails. This is not a success story.

  • From the UCAS Report —
    “..• In Scotland there is a substantial component (around one third of young full-time higher education) where admissions are not processed through UCAS. Consequently, for Scotland, this report reflects the trends in applications that are recruited through UCAS and not, as elsewhere in the UK, full-time undergraduate study in general.

  • Not surprising since it is now a legal requirement for 17 year olds to be in education or some form of training. I don’t think they’re attracted by the tuition fees debt, more that the debt has been normalised and they are youngsters so having a big loan looks like spending money.

  • Tuition fees was a Tory policy that we turned into a Graduate Tax. Labour left No Money. We kept the promise on the front page of our manifesto – Pupil Premium and it is hugely successful. Who would you choose to spend limited funds on, poor kids who might never learn to read and write or 18year olds with a good enough education that they have the chance to go to University? Maybe we shouldn’t have made the promise, but Nick apologised for that – we made the right choice and delivered the higher priority. End of story.

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '15 - 4:08pm

    Ahead of new rules in 2013 when entry into nursing became exclusively at a graduate-level, from 2009/10 nursing became the most popular degree subject by numbers of applications and places. Tuition fees are paid by the NHS so it is not affected by that change.
    Is it likely that the large number of people entering nursing via the university route who would not previously have done so represent a different demographic in terms of gender, age and social background than traditional university applicants.
    It would be interesting to see the effect of removing nursing from these figures so that they can be compared on a like-for-like basis before hailing tuition fees as a great coalition success in improving social mobility.

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '15 - 4:13pm

    @Mike Biden “Tuition fees was a Tory policy that we turned into a Graduate Tax.”
    Precisely what feature of the new scheme makes it more like a graduate tax than the one Labour left behind?
    Labour and Conservatives would have increased the size of student loans (it is not a tax, it is a loan repaid only by those who borrow the money and it is repaid by those who graduate and those who do not). Lib Dems promised they would vote against such increases and had a policy to fund tertiary education that would “scrap unfair tuition fees”.

  • @Mike Biden If that’s your idea of a graduate tax, it’s an extremely unprogressive one. Repayment rates for the richest, who pay off quickly, are lower than for those who take thirty years to pay off the loan because the rich don’t have the high rates of compound interest to pay. The very poor graduates pay least but those with moderate incomes pay about £40,000 more than those with very high incomes. (These sums only apply to the 3-year degree; for longer courses the discrepancy is larger.) Taxes aren’t supposed to be like that – but perhaps you have a different view.

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '15 - 4:16pm

    @Mike Biden “Who would you choose to spend limited funds on, poor kids who might never learn to read and write or 18year olds with a good enough education that they have the chance to go to University?”
    Or free schools? Or a tax cut for those with the highest incomes? Or a tax cut for married couples? Or investment in a replacement for Trident? Or …

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '15 - 4:18pm

    Or even free school meals for parents who can afford to pay? (Before 2010 Lib Dems opposed that idea!)

  • Little Jackie Paper 1st Feb '15 - 4:49pm

    Ms Lindsay/Mike Biden – With respect (and to be clear I do mean that). This is precisely the sort of argument that is really, really grating when it comes to fees. The argument was not about access, it wasn’t about the poor illiterates in sink schools. It was about debt – plain and simple.

    In one breath the Coalition (and Labour) would have us believe that debt is a crisis that threatens the very national fabric, yet there doesn’t seem to be a problem in the next breath piling it onto the young. And the bizarre insistence that it’s not a debt if you look at in a certain way and think about in kind of another perspective is not far off insult to injury.

    There is money for triple locked pensions, ‘winter fuel’ cheques, war in Libya and Syria, HS2 – the list goes on. Not to mention that it now appears that the new system in all probability will not yield any particular saving.

    And all this at a gargantuan political price for the LDP. Just think how different things could have been going into this election if the previous situation had just been left in situ.

    I respect that there are arguments to be had about access and the poor illiterates on the sink estates. But your arguments here are petrol on the fire.

  • LJP Why say “with respect” when you say you mean it? The only reason to use the phrase is as a means of criticism.

  • Mike Biden Stop quoting that ludicrous “joke” of Liam Byrne’s – Labour did not leave “no money”.

  • @Mike Biden
    “We kept the promise on the front page of our manifesto – Pupil Premium and it is hugely successful”

    Not true. Anyone outside the LD bubble know this is NOT new money. I work in the largest school in Liverpool in the poorest ward and we benefit from £1m Pupil Premium money, however a similar amount has been cut from other sources so this is not extra funding, merely funding taken with one hand and given back with another. With regards to University applicants, I can categorically say we have seen a 60% drop in poorer students ATTENDING university, but an increase in APPLICATIONS. Big difference. The main reason when they are asked is £45k debt.

  • Little Jackie Paper 1st Feb '15 - 5:38pm

    Tim13 – ‘LJP Why say “with respect” when you say you mean it? The only reason to use the phrase is as a means of criticism.’

    I realise that in this crazy world it sounds odd, but my respect was in fact genuine and something to be taken at face value. No more no less. It wasn’t in any sense a criticism and the reason was not, as you over-infer, to criticise by the back door. I said it because people on this particular subject tend to get a bit tetchy and it was an (obviously failed) attempt to make clear that I respect other views, even though I don’t agree. Obviously given the internet’s never-ending capacity for offence-taking there wasn’t any point even trying.

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st Feb '15 - 6:45pm

    Mike Biden 1st Feb ’15 – 4:03pm

    Other than my huge scepticism re your “End of story” comment, this is the sort of positively spun message Nick Clegg could have attempted to get over during his appearance on Channel 4’s light entertainment programme ‘Last Leg’. One can only wonder (or conclude) why he didn’t.

  • A Social Liberal 1st Feb '15 - 6:49pm

    I have asked this question several times but have not received an answer, any answer. Do the statistics quoted by Caron identify that it is the young people from deprived homes who are applying in such droves for university places, or is it that those young people might just have been from more afflluent families but attended schools with a high incidence children claiming free school meals?

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 2nd Feb ’15 – 8:45am
    ” On Monday morning, Labour is aying that they will cut fees to £6k. ”

    This sounds a bit like a headline or a slogan without much substance. A bit like Clegg saying £8 Billion for the NHS.
    Or like Cameron saying he will cut the deficit by 100%
    (or as we now say 50% – because when it comes to deficits any fool knows that 100% and 50% are the same thing ! ).

    I am distrustful of such statements because they seem to be cynical pitches to the voters tossed out from the Westminster Bubble in the hope that the great unwashed will swallow what are essentially deceptions. I should declare an interest as I still have a daughter at university and we regularly send food parcels and cheques to keep her going.

    I am also worried about the statement from Universities UK. They seem to be ever more interested in students as a source of funding rather than a source of scholars and scientists and future academics.
    I feel that Universities UK no longer sees keen bright eighteen year olds with potential and instead sees pound signs, revenue streams and a way of maintaining thevested interests of the University Bureaucracies.

    Am I being unfair?

  • Peter Watson 2nd Feb '15 - 11:27am

    @Caron Lindsay “What’s striking is that the rates in England are higher than Scotland where tuition remains free. It shows that the SNP Government have much to do in terms of increasing accessibility.”
    I just wondered if you would like to respond to John Tilley’s point that suggests your attack on the SNP and free university tuition might be unfounded:

    In Scotland there is a substantial component (around one third of young full-time higher education) where admissions are not processed through UCAS. Consequently, for Scotland, this report reflects the trends in applications that are recruited through UCAS and not, as elsewhere in the UK, full-time undergraduate study in general.

  • A Social Liberal 2nd Feb '15 - 12:30pm

    I asked the question, ‘[does the report] identify that it is the young people from deprived homes who are applying in such droves for university places, or is it that those young people might just have been from more afflluent families but attended schools with a high incidence children claiming free school meals’.

    Well, I have found out that neither scenario projects the actuality (not hard really, I read the UCAS report). Those students are not even identified as going to a school with a high incidence of FSM but only as coming from a disadvantaged area.

    So why does this matter? Well let’s look at a mythical disadvantaged area – St Johns Forest in industrial Lancashire. It has six schools – a boys and a girls grammar, three average schools (one of whom has eschewed the catchment area system in favour of selecting feeder primary schools) and a failing school. St Johns middle classes try and get their children into the grammar schools allocated places for St Johns Forests cohort and failing that the better of the average schools. Those who cannot pay for extra tuition to skew the selection process of the grammars have to rely on the vagaries of the LEAs.

    So, the grammar schools take only 28 percent of its selected children from St Johns Forest, taking most of their cohort from schools up to twenty miles away. They therefore have access to the brightest children from far and wide. The best of the average schools takes its children from selected primary schools (which incidentally is in St Johns middle class areas) whilst the remaining three schools accept its children from their catchment areas. The wealthiest send their children to schools outside the area of St Johns Forest.

    Thus you can say that more children from a disadvantaged area are going to university when it is not necessarily so. It could well be that it is the wealthier families getting to send their children off. Similarly, the only conclusion with regards to the title of this article can only be that it is misleading.

    The only way to ensure that the statistics are correct is to record the undergraduates as having had to rely on FSM or not.

  • @Social Liberal, and others:

    There are several posters here, who were perfectly happy with this particular measurement of percentage of disadvantaged students going to university…until it started showing that more than ever were attending. In fact, I remember some of the names here going nuts in 2011 and 2012 when those same figures showed a drop in the number of disadvantaged students attending – they said then that it was proof that the policy was a disaster. But now? Oh now it’s all different. Now the figures show the opposite is the case, and suddenly the figures are suspect. Quelle surpise. Some people will accept nothing other than failure.

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Feb '15 - 3:01pm

    JohnTilley

    I am also worried about the statement from Universities UK. They seem to be ever more interested in students as a source of funding rather than a source of scholars and scientists and future academics.
    I feel that Universities UK no longer sees keen bright eighteen year olds with potential and instead sees pound signs, revenue streams and a way of maintaining the vested interests of the University Bureaucracies

    Am I being unfair?

    Yes.

    I am a university lecturer, and my wife works as an administrator in a university and so it a “university bureaucrat”. I can assure you that neither of us went into the job for the money, and neither of us has an easy life, both of us work well above our contracted hours at salaries below what equivalent skills would be paid in the private sector.

    As Iain Sanderson indicates, universities are not awash with money right now. Tuition fees only cover replaced what was previously covered by direct subsidy, they did not bring in extra money.

    The big issue, however, is research. Universities are meant to spend as much time, effort and money on doing research as they are on teaching. At least, the higher ranking ones are meant to. The government (goes back to the previous Tory government) brought in a scheme (the “Research Assessment Exercise”) which was meant to be about concentrating research funding in a few places, but it had the opposite effect. Because prestige in universities is based on research record, and because the effect was to bring in a fixed amount of money per student, but extra money depending on research record, it meant that MOST universities put all their effort into research. In particular, the middle-ranking ones, such as the one I work for, did not want to end up condemned as low-ranking “teaching-only” institutions, so put huge efforts into pushing research at the expense of teaching – including sacking university lecturers who were more teaching-oriented than research-oriented.

    One can hardly blame them for this. University league tables are largely based, directly or indirectly, on research rating, and university applicants almost always place position in league table above all other considerations when it comes to which university to go for. So, if a university puts more effort into teaching and less in research, it drops down the league table and loses the best applicants. The Labour governments of 1997-2010 did nothing to tackle this.

    The current government seems to have hoped that tuition fees would tackle it, fondly imagining that there would be a competitive market on teaching. As I said would happen when this was first introduced, no it didn’t work out that way. University applicants will still go by league table, and will believe the higher the tuition fee the better the quality, therefore it was not worth any university trying to compete with lower fees. It is a classic example of why free market theory so often doesn’t work in practice – buying a university degree is not like buying a pie from a market stall. Free market theory works best on products which people buy frequently and where it’s relatively easy to tell which is the better product and you don’t have to be an expert to tell its true worth.

    However, the tuition fee system DID save the university system. Life might not be that easy for us, and our salaries have dropped in real terms in recent years – but there have not been large scale cuts. I am absolutely certain that had we Liberal Democrats forced the government to keep our “pledge” it would have been at the cost of huge cuts and massive job losses. See how this has happened in local government. It’s horrendous – I remember struggling to deal with “the cuts” when I was a councillor, but there’s been big cuts since then, and big cuts planned in the future in local government funding. If universities were still directly funded by taxation, I think we would be seeing the same now. After all, it wouldn’t be the universities the top Tories send their kids to that get the cuts, would it? I suspect many of the ex-polys would be facing closure, with the Tories saying “Never mimd, the private sector can replace them”.

  • ^ Good post.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Feb '15 - 3:21pm

    @MBoy “I remember some of the names here going nuts in 2011 and 2012 when those same figures showed a drop in the number of disadvantaged students attending”
    I don’t recognise many names from those earlier discussions, but that aside, what is your interpretation of the figures? You seem to be implying that the figures are reliable and that they show great improvement to social mobility under a Labour government that was temporarily reversed by this Coalition government. Or do you believe that they are unreliable and do not support claims made by Lib Dems?
    Personally, I have always queried the extent to which social mobility claims are flattered by the concurrent expansion of nursing as a degree subject, and believe that any downturn in university applications was an unexpected and undesirable side-effect since when it put up fees (to a far higher level than we were reassured they would be) the Coalition government did not, in a time of great economic uncertainty, offer young people an alternative to the plans that they had been making for a large part of their lives.
    John Tilley’s point that Caron’s criticism of the SNP might be unjustified, and A Social Liberal’s point about possible misinterpretation of the data, are both new ones on LDV as far as I can remember.

  • Ian Sanderson and Matthew Huntbach

    Yes I thought I probably was being unfair.

    I did three stints as a member of the governing body of my local university (formerly Polytechnic).
    There was a gap between each stint so I was involved on amd off for period of just over twenty years.
    So I am perhaps guilty of the approach to university funding that I have accused others. I can understand entirely why universities feel threatened. If I was involved now I have no doubt I would be trying everything possible to get the best for the university and secure its future.

    I also have a very minor experience as a different sort of bureaucrat in the giving (or strictly speaking advising on the giving) of research grants to universities. As Matthew points out this is the all important funding trigger. So I was involved in a government department that gave research grants to universities whose wider funding from the government was based on research grants. Not sure quite where that takes us.

    It is not a perfect system but it is perhaps better than Oxbridge Colleges going cap in hand to Gulf Tyrants or Russian Oligarchs.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Feb '15 - 3:49pm

    @Matthew Huntbach “Tuition fees only cover replaced what was previously covered by direct subsidy, they did not bring in extra money. … However, the tuition fee system DID save the university system.”
    Is that based on the assumption that the only alternative was to cut the subsidy and not replace it with the tuition fees. If neither change had been made, would the situation really be that different within the universities? After all, students under the new scheme have not started repaying their loans yet so all of the money currently in the system has come from the government.

  • MBoy 2nd Feb ’15 – 2:26pm

    In case you thought it was me — I made no comment in LDV at all in 2010, 2011 or 2012.
    It must have been someone else.

    As for my first comment in this thread – I was merely quoting from the report that Caron’s article provided a link to.

    My personsl view on the current statistics on numbers of applications to universities is that the increase may have something to do with to the raising of the school leaving age. Am I totally wrong to hold that view?

  • We need to examine quality. The jest ” What does one say to an arts graduate ? “Big Mac and fries please””, is too often too close to reality. The most highly paid graduate employment is chemical engineering, which for most courses requires Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. If only 60% of comprehensive schools offer Further Maths ( and what is the standard of teaching ? ). and those at public school takes twice as many A Levels in maths and sciences and three times as many modern language as those at comprehensives , how valuable are some degrees? Two friends who worked as lab technicians went to university to read bio medical science degrees: those people who replaced them had degrees yet the job was the same. Many jobs which required A levels or HNC/HND qualifications now require degrees, yet the job remains the same.

    The Germans laugh at many poorer UK degrees. The reality a degree in media studies affords the same opportunities as a degree in Law from Oxbridge is laughable. The reality is that as evening study for degrees for professional careers has been largely closed down for post 16 education, many people are forced to go to university. Historically people could read for degrees and degree level exams in Engineering, Chemistry, Law, Accountancy, Surveying, Banking , Insurance and , Physiotherapy while working and attending night school. Sending someone to a poor university to obtain an arts degree and tens of thousands of pounds of debt which will allow entry to poorly paid jobs is not as good as enabling them to obtain an NVQ 3 or 4 in a work related subject.

    In Germany and Switzerland they have very good 16-23, technician training which is what a country needs to to produce a high value engineering capability. In Germany Fraunhofer Institutes provide much of the technical education and R and D.

    The greatest beneficiaries of the expansion of higher education has been the employees and the building firms undertaking the construction. I would suggests expansion of the university technical colleges would offer people better opportunities than expanding the arts and humanities degrees of many of the poorer universities. Returning former polytechnics to their function of providing technical and vocational education through evening, weekend and thin sandwich courses, would enable people to obtain degrees for professional careers without acquiring large debts and would increase social mobility.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Feb '15 - 12:10pm

    Peter Watson

    Is that based on the assumption that the only alternative was to cut the subsidy and not replace it with the tuition fees. If neither change had been made, would the situation really be that different within the universities? After all, students under the new scheme have not started repaying their loans yet so all of the money currently in the system has come from the government.

    Exactly. So it is, in effect, what we said we wanted – all paid for by government. However, the Tories would never had agreed to it had it not been done in this roundabout way.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Feb '15 - 12:16pm

    Charlie

    Sending someone to a poor university to obtain an arts degree and tens of thousands of pounds of debt which will allow entry to poorly paid jobs is not as good as enabling them to obtain an NVQ 3 or 4 in a work related subject.

    That’s up to the people of this country. I sigh whenever I ask people I am acquainted with who have teenage children what their children are doing for A-levels, and the answer is rarely science and maths.

    University Engineering departments have been closing down in big numbers in this country because not enough of our teenagers study the A-level they require. I am involved with admissions to my university department, and I teach skills which are in more demand than any other skills, yet we struggle to recruit sufficient applicants with the necessary background, and to be honest have to fill our places with too many who are weak because they have not chosen those school qualifications which experience tells us are the best preparation for our subject.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    The reasons you give are why we are no longer the workshop of the world. The aristocratic right contempt for trade and technology has been joined by the middle class socialist public sector contempt for trade and technology. As I have said before, Mitchell- Spitfire, Chadwick-Lancaster and B Wallis wellington, Bouncing Bomb and others plus swept wing technology, all became professional engineers through evening study while undertaking their apprenticeships.

    One aspect which is ignored is that the heads of Maths/science department at most grammar and public schools had masters or even doctorates from top universities. Consequently, pupils were correctly advised as to what O , A and S levels were required to enter top departments and careers in industry. Until recently the Head of chemistry at Dulwich had a B.Sc and doctorate from Imperial. The problem is that at many comprehensive many do not offer single science GSCEs and do not have staff who have been to top universities and therefore are incapable or unwilling to give correct advice. A friend who taught at an inner city comp and had a M.Sc in Physics from UCL and a former career in computing was critcised by the VP for giving a pupil extra physics coaching!

    The teaching unions and education establishment are largely run by middle class socialists with arts degrees who have little or no experience of trade and technology and are usually at best indifferent and at worst contemptuous of it .
    If we had the education departments and Min of Education run by those who had completed apprenticeships and then gone on to become chartered engineers, scientists , surveyors, accountants , etc, etc , perhaps we would have a comprehensive education system which produced school leavers which employers and top STEM universities found excellent. The reality is that the post 60s comprehensive education is run by largely by hard left /trots who have produced a system which is completely opposite to the high quality technical/vocational system of Germany or Switzerland . In Germany and Switzerland , the education departments make sure school leavers have the skills and education industry needs.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Feb '15 - 6:31pm

    @Charlie
    I agree with many of your points but I would not blame a generation of troskyite teachers for the problems that you describe. I would blame successive governments, packed with middle and upper class arts graduates with little or no experience or appreciation of trade and technology and teaching.

    As an aside, I don’t really agree with knocking media studies graduates. These days the consumption of media is an enormous industry, and I suspect those who have studied it might be more useful than someone who has spent 3 years discussing Shakespeare’s use of simile and metaphor.

  • Peter Watson

    Thank you. I would like the LDs to return to pre 1922 when we were the party of SMEs.

    A Sampson, a founder of the SDP in his 1982 book Ch An of Britain points out trot infiltration of white collar unions , especially teachers /arts students at polys, teacher training colleges and colleges of higher education. There have been at least 13 Trot parties in the UK . The SWP members I have met were often teachers. Trot parties such as Socialist Action ( supported K Livingstone who trained as a teacher)were dominant in the GLC and ILEA. The Trot infiltration
    of LEAs, departments of education, Inst of Ed London and many comprehensives pursued equality by pushing the lowest common denominator. One of the few academics who believed the working class deserved the highest level of education was Richard Hoggart.

    “In a democracy which is highly commercialised you have to give people critical literacy. If you don’t do that, you might as well pack it in.”
    A quote from Hoggart is below.
    He also thoroughly detested the fashion for relativism, which “leads to populism which then leads to levelling and so to reductionism of all kinds, from food to moral judgments”. For Hoggart, those who maintained that the Beatles were as good as Beethoven represented a “loony terminus”.

    Part of the problem is that most of the people who run the LDs, Conservatives and even Labour have not been educated at comprehensives which have no grammar school heritage and have small numbers of professional middle class parents . There is often a massive difference between an l comprehensive which was constructed in the 1960s or 1970s or was former Sec Mod compared to a one which was former grammar school in suburbs with large numbers of professional middle class parents. If one looks at good comps such as Hab Ask, Lewisham, Dame Alice Owen, Camden Girls School or Cator Girls School, Bromley they are former grammar schools with a large middle class population in their catchment and they tend to employ few or no middle class Trots with B.Ed degrees.

  • Alastair McGowan 29th Sep '15 - 9:12pm

    More applications is good, more obtaining degrees is also good. Educated people have at least some of the tools to hold their ground socially and make a better contribution to society. However, I am unconvinced that it will lead to social mobility. Unless degree courses magically transform working class young people into the kind of people who can edge their way up the socioeconomic hierarchy not much will change. I speak from experience, having started life without qualifications and working a trade I got bsc and msc and my phd and expected to find a good job. And I was not a 2:2 student, i can excel and be innovative creative and all the requirements for a very good academic career and at Russell group too. But with hindsight, I saw others edge ahead of me, take the better jobs, and it happened beyond my horizon, I was never encultured into how to gain and hold power. Again with hindsight, I can see it began even at university, while I was developing my skills in my science discipline scouring libraries at night others were out networking way ahead of me. I went back to my trade. Without middle class enculturation I would have become an administrative level dogsbody, nor can I change that since my ethic is hard honest work not making alliances and manipulating the social sphere. I fear that many working class students will make the same discovery and drop out five years into their career, if mummy and daddy did not provide a good middle class semi-ruthless model for them

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