Analysis of higher education providers' access and participation plans has shown that our ambitious approach is leading to positive change.
The analysis presents a positive picture. Providers are responding to the challenges we set, and committing to ambitious targets. When these are delivered, we will see progress towards eliminating inequalities.
Key findings from the analysis
The gap in entry rates at higher tariff providers between the most and least represented groups
If all high-tariff universities and colleges with these targets meet them, the ratio will have moved from a relatively persistent gap of 6.24:1 in 2017-18 to 3.72:1 in 2024-25.
By 2038, the ratio will be much closer to 1:1.
The gap in non-continuation between the most and least represented groups
If all universities and colleges with these targets meet them, this gap would be reduced from 4.6 percentage points in 2016-17 to 2.9 percentage points by 2024-25.
The gap in degree outcomes between white and black students
If all universities and colleges with these targets meet them, the gap would reduce from 22.0 percentage points in 2017-18 to 11.2 percentage points in 2024-25.
The gap in degree outcomes between disabled and non-disabled students
If all universities and colleges with these targets meet them, the gap would close from 2.8 percentage points in 2017-18 to 1 percentage point in 2024-25.
The analysis highlighted a number of underrepresented student groups who were not adequately addressed in providers’ access and participation plans, including:
- mature students
- care leavers
- people who are estranged from their families
- people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
- men from the most disadvantaged areas.
It's clear that further research is needed to improve the experience of these groups.
Read the full analysis
The challenge now will be to realise the high levels of ambition.
We will ensure that providers deliver on the commitments set out in their plans, through annual monitoring of progress and close engagement with those providers subject to enhanced monitoring or shorter plan approval.
Maintaining the momentum and holding universities and colleges to account, whilst supporting the sector through effective practice will be critical over the coming years.