English and Scottish 18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely to enter higher education than ever before

Posted Thu 14 December 2017 - 00:00
The highest number of disadvantaged English 18 year olds on record entered higher education in 2017, with an entry rate of 13.8 per cent, up 0.2 percentage points on 2016.

However, entry rates for more advantaged groups also increased to 53.1 per cent, leaving the ratio between advantaged and disadvantaged broadly unchanged.

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS, said: ‘UCAS’ multiple equality measure (MEM) provides a unique way to evaluate progress in widening participation to higher education, taking account of different kinds of equality factors such as sex, ethnic group, and socioeconomic background. Although our analysis shows that a record number of disadvantaged young people have entered higher education this year – with the greatest increase at higher tariff providers – gaps in participation remain wide. While increases in attainment are the key to making more progress, it is also timely to look at other levers such as greater use of contextual data’.

Scotland experienced the highest number of Scottish 18 year olds from disadvantaged areas entering higher education this year. They are measured using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). SIMD ranks small geographical areas in Scotland by their relative level of deprivation.

In Scotland, the entry rate for the most deprived areas had the largest increase, rising by 16.2 per cent proportionally to 12.3 per cent, the highest value on record. This increase, coupled with a fall in the entry rate from the most advantaged areas, meant that ratio of entry between students from the most advantaged areas to those from the most deprived areas, fell to 3.3 this year. 

The figures are drawn from UCAS’ data and analysis released today (Thursday 14 December) – the final wave of information to be published from the UCAS End of Cycle Report 2017.

Other key findings from the final data release include the following:

  • The second highest number of offers were made in 2017 – just over 1.9 million offers for applications made through UCAS before the 30 June deadline.
  • Offer rates increased for all age groups, with 18 year olds more likely to receive an offer than ever before.
  • The number of unconditional offers made to 18 year olds has increased in 2017, but remains a small proportion of all offers made (5.3 per cent).
  • Attainment against predicted A level grades has fallen, despite attainment among A level students remaining largely stable.
  • The entry rate for 18 year olds in the Black ethnic group increased to 40.4 per cent, a rise of 3.2 per cent on last year.
  • The White ethnic group had the lowest entry rate of 29.3 per cent (a 1.5 per cent increase from last year), meaning the proportional gap between the White ethnic group and all other ethnic groups increased in 2017. 

The End of Cycle Report 2017 has been published in four waves, until full publication on Thursday 14 December. The above findings all come from the remaining sections of the report – ‘Patterns of entry to higher education by background’, ‘Offer-making’, and ‘Qualifications and competition’.

For more information, please contact: 

  • Felicity Cowie, Head of Media and Corporate Communications, at f.cowie@ucas.ac.uk
  • Rosalind Moore, Public Relations and Communications Officer, at r.moore@ucas.ac.uk or on 01242 545 469
  • @ucas_corporate 


Notes to editors

Every year, UCAS publishes an end of cycle report, which analyses data gathered from each annual cycle of undergraduate applications to higher education in the UK. The growth of this data, and opportunities for analysis and context, has meant that this year, for the first time, UCAS is releasing this material in waves. This enables us to share it as quickly as possible.

  • The material released today under embargo is attached.
  • Key findings from today’s release of information will be updated in our End of Cycle Report 2017 from Thursday 14 December.
About the multiple equality measure (MEM) and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

In 2015, UCAS introduced a new approach to measuring equality. The multiple equality measure (MEM) combines many of the current equality measures into a single value to provide an evidence-based measure of representation in higher education. By conflating the effect of many different dimensions of equality simultaneously, the MEM gives the most complete picture of differences in entry to university than ever before.

The measure used in Scotland is different. It is called the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). SIMD ranks small geographical areas in Scotland by their relative level of deprivation across a range of measures, which are used to form five groups, or quintiles, with equal population sizes. The first quintile indicates the most deprived group, and the fifth the least. 

About data and analysis related to Scotland

In Scotland, there is a substantial section of provision not included in UCAS' figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland. This proportion varies by geography and background.

Accordingly, the statistics on UCAS acceptances in these data resources reflect only that majority of full-time undergraduate study which uses UCAS Undergraduate.

From the 2015 cycle onwards, applications to postgraduate teacher training programmes in Scotland were included in the UCAS Undergraduate admissions scheme. Previously, these were recruited for through UCAS Teacher Training. In 2015, around 120 courses at providers in Scotland moved into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme, estimated to represent around 2,000 acceptances, mostly aged 21 or over. Comparisons between 2016 and 2014 (or earlier cycles) will be affected by this change.

About UCAS

UCAS is a charity, and is the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 applicants each year for full-time undergraduate courses, at over 395 universities and colleges across the UK. 

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