University expansion 'failing to benefit the poor'

Research shows that teenagers from middle-class homes have benefited the most from the expansion of higher education over the past 15 years, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

The study, published by the Institute of Social and Economic Research based at Essex University, analysed the social backgrounds of almost 34,000 adults aged 22 to 34 and 37 to 49. According to figures, the proportion of children from relatively well-off backgrounds getting onto degree courses has increased twice as quickly as for pupils with working-class parents.

Professor Peter Elias, from Warwick University, who co-wrote the report, said the findings partly reflected a decline in manual occupations and an increase in white-collar jobs over the past 40 years.

But he added: “Nonetheless, given the remarkable increase in the participation of young people in higher education that has taken place over the last 20 years, the brief analysis presented here reveals little evidence that the much-vaunted policy ambition – to provide better access to higher education to those from less-privileged backgrounds – has been successful."
Full report on The Telegraph site