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Higher education must be an open door for all Londoners

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

The number of young people from London entering university is on the rise but more needs to be done to ensure everyone can make the journey from school or college to higher education. 

A new report published by London Councils, the University of East London, Continuum and the London Borough of Newham shows that the number of young Londoners (aged 18 to 24) progressing to higher education in 2014/15 was 64,953, an increase of nearly 4 per cent on last year.

It also shows that completing a degree boosted young people’s chances of getting a job. 52 per cent of former students said they had full time paid work six months after graduating in 2013/14.

The report did, however, reveal that the number of those entering higher education at a later stage (between the ages of 21 and 24) had decreased by 2 per cent on the previous year, reflecting a steady decline over the past eight years. 

In addition the study revealed interesting statistics for gender and ethnicity:

  • The entry rate for females aged 18-20 was 6.6 per cent higher than males.
  • White females were 3.1 per cent more likely to go to university in 2014/15 than the previous year, but white male participation dropped by 0.6 per cent. 
  • Participation by other Asian females increased by 13.1 per cent, whereas in males it only rose by 7.8 per cent. 
  • Pakistani females’ participation increased by 10.7 per cent whereas in males it only increased by 0.4 per cent. 
  • Female participation also increased more than for males for students of Indian ethnicity and Black Caribbean ethnicity.

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive member for children, skills and employment, said: 

“The report shows that successfully completing higher education makes a huge difference to young Londoners’ employment prospects. There are a high proportion of graduate-level jobs in London so this makes complete sense. However, it is worrying to see that fewer males are choosing to go to university from school or college, a trend that is more pronounced in some ethnic groups. Older students aged between 21 and 24 are also less likely to access higher education, demonstrating the importance of equipping people to enter higher education at a younger age if they are to reap the benefits of London’s job market.

“It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure all young people in London can experience the benefits of higher education, even via routes other than the traditional full-time option.

“London boroughs will now use the report’s findings to work with schools, universities and further education colleges to increase participation in a targeted way. This goes hand in hand with helping young people gain meaningful experiences of the world of work through the London Ambitions careers framework, which will better inform their higher education choices.”

A series of area reviews of further education and training across London are also currently taking place. These are aiming to improve provision and ultimately help more young people gain the skills needed to find jobs. Area reviews are due to be completed by March 2017.

ENDS

Notes to editors: 

  1. The “Higher Education Journey of Young London Residents: July 2016” report is the fourth in a series providing analysis of the higher education journey of young people living in London as they progress from 16-18 institutions on to higher education study and beyond. The report also looks at achievement at university and graduate employment.
  2. Using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), this report focuses on young people aged 18-24 whose home addresses are in London. The most recent data available is for the academic year 2014/15. Time series data back to 2007/08 is also used to illustrate trends over an eight year period.
  3. The final section of the report examines the outcomes of higher education utilising data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, and the most recent data available is for students who completed their higher education studies by the end of the academic year 2013/14
  4. In 2014/15 the number of young Londoners progressing to higher education was 64,953, an increase of nearly 4 per cent compared to the previous year. Almost 71 per cent of Londoners graduating in 2014/15 achieved a First or a Upper Second degree.
  5. More than 52 per cent of students were employed in full-time paid work six months after graduation – an increase of 3 per cent compared to the previous year. If part-time work, primarily in work and also studying and those due to start a job within the next month are taken into account, the employment figure increases to 70 per cent.
  6. The number of London students aged between 21 and 24 who entered higher education in 2014/15 is 10,909. This figure is 2 per cent lower than last year and reflects a steady decline over the past eight years. People in this older age group make up nearly 17 per cent of the overall number of young Londoners entering higher education. This suggests that it vital that young people are equipped to enter higher education when they are aged 18 or 19, as the older they get the less likely they are to do so.
  7. In London, the entry rate for females aged 18-20 is 6.6 percentage points higher compared to males, which is lower than nationally. The increase in participation in 2014/15 compared to 2013/14 was 2.9 per cent for males and 4.3 per cent for females. The gender imbalance is further compounded when looking at the gap between disadvantaged females and males.
  8. Participation by ethnicity and gender shows that whilst female participation of White students increased by 3.1 per cent, male participation actually dropped by 0.6 per cent in 2014/15. Similarly, whilst female participation by other Asian females increased by 13.1 per cent, it only increased for males by 7.8 per cent. Pakistani females increased participation by 10.7 per cent whereas males only increased by 0.4 per cent. Female participation also increased more than for males for students of Indian ethnicity and Black Caribbean ethnicity.
  9. London Ambitions aims to modernise and transform careers and employment support for young people across London, regardless of the particular school or college they attend. It was produced by London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the London Enterprise Panel. For more information, please visit http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/londonambitionscareers
  10. 10. If journalists are interested in further commentary on the report’s findings, London Councils can arrange interviews with one of the report’s authors: Professor John Storan of the Continuum Research Centre for Widening Participation Policy Studies, University of East London. To read his biography, follow this link: http://www.f-a-c-e.org.uk/about-face/the-executive.htm.