Challenge: #1 Widening participation


Equality of opportunity is in UCAS’ DNA — the desire to create a level playing field for university applications is what led to its inception thirty years ago. Notwithstanding many hurdles along the way, not least the pandemic of 2019, significant progress has been made in widening access - today, nearly a quarter of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas enter higher education, compared just over 11% in 2006. However, with demand set to rise over the rest of the decade, there is a risk that those most disadvantaged students, typically at the lower end of the attainment spectrum, may be ‘squeezed’ out.

These essays, created in collaboration with Unite Students and Knight Frank, draw on expert commentators’ insight into how we can accelerate, not stall, or worse still, reverse, progress in closing equality gaps, to benefit all of those who have the potential to succeed in education and training. This includes greater consistency in approach across the sector, engagement with industry and employers, attainment raising in schools, and a renewed focus on transition.