A summary published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows a decrease in the proportion of students enrolled at university who come from state-run schools.
The statistics have been published as an objective measure of how UK higher education performs in widening participation at university. Widening participation includes looking at students from disadvantaged backgrounds or students who receive the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DLA).
Rates of students enrolled for their first degree who were educated by state-run secondary schools had been steadily increasing since the 2010/11 academic year. However, for the first time in eight years, the enrolment rates from state-run schools have dropped from 90% in 2016/17 to 89.9% in 2017/18 across the UK.
The University of Manchester has an even lower rate of disadvantaged student enrolment at 84.6% in 2017/18 compared to Manchester Metropolitan University’s ground-breaking 97.2% in the same year.
However, the University of Manchester differs from the trend as the rate of disadvantaged student enrolment has increased from 82.8% in 2016/17.
The figures show that the numbers of students from low-participation neighbourhoods has continued to rise since 2009 including an increase from 11.4% in 2016/17 to 11.6% in 2017/18.
Students enrolled who receive DSA had risen until 2015/16 at which point it dropped from 6.9% to 6.6% in 2016/17 and 2017/18, respectively.
The University of Manchester, again, shows a different correlation as 7.5% of enrolled students receive DSA in 2017/18 which has not changed from 2016/17. Although, Manchester Metropolitan University rates are lower than average as only 5.3% of DSA receiving students were enrolled in 2017/18 which has fallen from 5.7% in 2016/17.
The Higher Education Statistics Agency does recommend caution when using the data to look at trends across time. Changes to the underlying population such as the number of students attending state-run schools were not included. In addition, changes in the way state-schools are marked meant that a number of students were excluded from the figures.