LDV

New university data shows everyone was wrong about tuition fees

31 January 2013 , ,

May I introduce you to my latest graph? It’s based on the new data just published about university applications in England and compares the application rate for university places from the most deprived parts of the country with those from the least deprived. As you might expect, the least deprived areas see a higher university application rate than the most deprived. But look what’s happened to that gap:

University application rate graphs

Yes indeed, since the changes to tuition fees in England we’ve seen the gap in applications between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged areas of the country drop sharply.

That’s the opposite of what critics of the merits of the new system warned about – and indeed not even its keenest supporters that I could find were predicting such an improvement.

Those pesky teenagers have made fools of everyone…

 

Note as per my tests for making sure someone is talking sense when looking at student numbers, tuition fees and all that:

  • These calculations are based on the application rates, rather than raw numbers of applications, and so take into account the falling number of teenagers.
  • These figures are for application rates amongst 18 year olds, so these figures are relevant to discussions such as about the life chances teenagers are getting. They however exclude applications from mature students.
  • And yes, they are application numbers not actual number of acceptances. Those are based on how many university places are being funded in total but the social skew amongst applications is relevant to how socially skewed the acceptances are likely to end up.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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4 comments
Patrick C Smith
Patrick C Smith

If the fear that fewer 18 yr olds from less and least well off homes are in fact applying for University places per se contrary to media and student union expectations, then this must be demonstrated very clearly in basic language i.e. real numbers.There is also a role for young L/D members, especially those in F/T Education to inform their peer group! I am personally convinced on these figures but are the students themselves becoming aware that the `increased tuition fees' have not, to date, in the first year, acted as a detriment to Universtity application places from working class family members? In my view, it is commonly misunderstood that graduates do not begin to repay their student loans, until their earnings are £21k. and above!

Mark Pack
Mark Pack

Hi James - I couldn't see in your piece where you had predicted that introducing tuition fees would *reduce* the gap in applications between least and most well off people? As with some others, I see you did say it wouldn't put poor people off, fair enough, but what's actually happened is a step beyond that.

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